New Delhi: Brisk polling was on Tuesday witnessed in the Vice Presidential poll in which incumbent Hamid Ansari is all set to be re-elected to the top post with UPA having a clear edge over NDA.

READ MORE: MPs cast vote for 14th Vice President

75-year-old Ansari, whose candidature has been supported by Left parties and UPA allies like SP and BSP, appears set to fend off the contest put up by NDA nominee Jaswant Singh.

As many as 600 electors from an effective electoral college of 787 members of Parliament had cast their vote by 1:00 PM, Ansari's election agent and senior advocate Pravin Parekh said here.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were among the early voters in the 14th Vice Presidential election polling for which began at 10:00 AM.

BJD, TDP and RSP have declared that they would abstain from voting. Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is ill and admitted to a Chennai hospital. The three parties together have 34 members in both Houses of Parliament.

With the total number of voting members reduced to 752, the halfway mark for Ansari has become 377. UPA managers claim to have the declared support of nearly 500 members.

BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi, BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had cast their ballots before noon.

How Vice President is elected

The Vice President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of members of both houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.

Nominated members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are also entitled to take part in the election.

Hamid Ansari vs Jaswant Singh

Ansari is being backed by the Congress, most other parties of the United Progressive Alliance, those supporting the alliance from outside and some Left parties. Jaswant Singh has the backing of the National Democratic Alliance as well as the AIADMK.

UPA managers are confident that 75-year-old Ansari is set to get at least 500 votes in a contest in which Ansari has a definite edge as far as the arithmetic is concerned.
     
Congress itself has 204 members in Lok Sabha and 71 in Rajya Sabha. UPA constituents Trinamool Congress has 19 MPs in Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha, DMK has 18 members in Lok Sabha and 7 in Rajya Sabha, NCP 9 in Lok Sabha and 7 in Rajya Sabha and RLD has 5 in Lok Sabha. National Conference has 3 in Lok Sabha and 2 in Rajya Sabha.

SP, BSP backing Ansari

Besides, SP with its 22 members in Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha and BSP with its 21 in Lok Sabha and 15 in Rajya Sabha are backing Ansari who is also being backed by the entire Left block with 38 members in both Houses of Parliament.
        
Unlike the Presidential poll held last month, which had split NDA with JD-U and Shiv Sena breaking ranks to vote for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, Jaswant Singh has the backing of a united NDA for his Vice Presidential bid.
    
BJP has 114 members in Lok Sabha and 49 in Rajya Sabha, JD-U 20 and 9, Shiv Sena 11 and 4 and SAD 4 and 3.

BJD to abstain from voting

BJD with 18 members in Lok Sabha and 7 in the Rajya Sabha has decided to abstain from voting.
    
Ahead of the poll, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday hosted a lunch for UPA constituents and the parties supporting it from outside, which projected a complete picture of unity.

TMC MPs to vote for Ansari

Trinamool Congress MPs attended Gandhi's lunch and the party is expected to go public with its support Ansari ahead of the polls.
     
Not only all UPA constituents but also the chiefs of Samajwadi Party and BSP Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati attended the lunch.
    
The two leaders, arch rival in Uttar Pradesh politics, had not attended any such programme together for several years.
    
At the AICC headquarters, party general secretary Digvijay Singh held interactions with several MPs, especially those from UP, to ensure voting is done properly during the Vice Presidential poll and no vote goes waste. The balloting will take place from 10 am to 5 pm.

31 candidates in the VP poll fray     

A total of 42 papers were filed by 31 candidates during the 14-day nomination process, of which four sets of papers submitted by Ansari and three sets submitted by Singh were accepted. The nomination papers of 29 others were rejected on various grounds.
    
Though the numbers are stacked highly against Singh, BJP is making all efforts to put up a respectable fight.

AIADMK to support Jaswant Singh    

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday extended AIADMK's support to NDA nominee Jaswant Singh, saying she firmly believes that there has to be an opposition in a true democracy. AIADMK has 14 MPs in Parliament.
 
(Agencies)

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