New Delhi: Voting for presidential poll 2012 is over and now all eyes are set on the emerging political equations ahead of vice-presidential poll. Both the ruling and opposition alliances have announced their respective candidates for the poll due on August 7. Ruling UPA, led by Congress, has once again fielded incumbent Vice-President Hamid Ansari whereas the BJP led NDA has announced its veteran leader and former Union Minister Jaswant Singh as its candidate.

Though the office of the Vice-President of India happens to be the second highest one but it has hardly ever been so important for the political parties as it seems to be this time. The parties are showing keen interest to have a Vice-President of their choice following the significant role played by present Vice-President Hamid Ansari in averting an embarrassing situation for the government when he suddenly adjourned the Rajya Sabha in December last year during Lokpal debate.

Actually in vice-presidential poll, only members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are entitled to cast their votes whereas in presidential polls, the elected members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha besides the members of state assemblies are entitled to exercise their franchise. In the wake of this fact, the fight between Hamid Ansari and Jaswant Singh is going to be very interesting as the Congress is in minority in the Rajya Sabha and despite enjoying a majority in the Lok Sabha, many of its own allies like Trinamool Congress and NCP are seemingly estranged with it. If the NCP and TMC in tow with other political outfits decide to go against the Congress and agree to throw their weight behind Jaswant Singh, considering his stature and wielding clout even outside the saffron turf, then this time the candidate of the ruling alliance can be in trouble.

Amidst the political hurly burly, the stage is set for an interesting slugfest between the UPA and the NDA to elect next Vice-President of the country. But the political equations for this election are quite different from that of this year’s presidential election. Given the towering political persona of UPA’s presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, some of the constituents of NDA like JD-U and Shiv Sena have preferred to go against their coalition dharma and voted for Mukherjee. However, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and AIADMK joined hands with BJP and wholeheartedly supported opposition candidate PA Sangma.

But this time in vice-presidential poll, many of the parties are apparently going to shift their stands. NDA constituents like JD-U and Shiv Sena have this time returned to their alliance fold and have announced to support BJP leader Jaswant Singh. Two major regional parties like BJD and AIADMK which stood by BJP to support former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, have not yet opened their cards. Flamboyant Trinamool leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who announced her party’s support for UPA’s presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee in the last hour, has again not yet announced her party’s support for any of the contestants. The way Mamata Banerjee spoke at a rally on Saturday (July 21) in Kolkata, it seems that she is not comfortable with Congress both at the Centre and in the state politics. Banerjee said that her party would prefer to go alone in state’s local body elections and she did not need the help of the Congress party to run her government in the state.

On June 12, much before being nominated as the NDA’s candidate for the Vice-President’s post, Jaswant Singh had met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav while lobbying for himself. It is a well known fact that the senior BJP leader enjoys a cordial relationship even with the leaders of those parties which are considered as the arch rival of BJP. This was clearly apparent when SP chief came out to see off Jaswant Singh and the both were seen talking one-on-one for some time after the meeting which took place on June 12.

On the other hand UPA is pinning hope on support of so-called secular parties as its candidate Hamid Ansari comes from minority background. Even earlier, sources in JD-U had said that the party could again stand by UPA nominee if Ansari’s name would be announced as the vice-presidential candidate. However, the party (JD-U) leading a coalition government in Bihar preferred abide by its coalition Dharma.

The picture will be much clearer on August 7, the voting day, but it will definitely be interesting to see what will be the decision of the many regional parties which are yet to take a call in this regard.

Mritunjay Singh/JPN

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