Opposition lightens up for Vice Presidential candidate

New Delhi: After refusing to contest three possible elections after the opposition looked for a presidential candidate, and some key non-NDA constituents turned non-committal after the ruling coalition nominated tribal leader Draupadi Murmu as its choice The opposition parties are treading cautiously on the post of Vice-President. Voting is to be held on August 6.

Congress has made it clear that it will not field any candidate from the party; The Trinamool Congress, the second largest opposition party, has indicated that it is “not rushing this time”; And a senior Left leader, who is usually active in such issues, said: “Our focus is to get all opposition parties on board.”

According to senior opposition leaders, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury are among the strategists who are in talks with other opposition leaders. “We are talking to various opposition leaders for an integrated approach. No name has been discussed so far.

People familiar with the matter said that a leader of the opposition, who is currently in New York, has also been approached by a Congress leader to discuss the vice presidential election.

But four opposition leaders told HT that informal talks between opposition constituents focused solely on building consensus, and so far not a single name has come up for consideration. “We are taking a different approach from what we did in the presidential election discussions,” said one leader.

For the presidential election, the opposition suffered a setback after three candidates – Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi – refused to contest before the opposition chose former finance minister Yashwant Sinha as its joint candidate.

There is also a view in a section of the opposition that they should wait for the government’s proposal to come through and only then field candidates. “We do not have any candidate in mind. As far as the candidate is concerned, we want to first hear what the government has to offer.

While many opposition parties are determined to field a candidate, some leaders do not rule out another “murmu moment” in which the likes of the NDA taunt some opposition parties. The Akali Dal has announced its support to Murmu despite leaving the NDA. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, an opposition organization that is in power in Jharkhand, is also likely to back India’s first tribal woman set to become president.

The Biju Janata Dal, and the YSRCP have also announced support for Murmu, comfortably leaving him behind the winning margin in the electoral college.

Unlike in presidential elections, where the Bharatiya Janata Party requires the support of allies and friendly parties, it has enough votes to ensure the victory of the ruling party’s candidate in a vice-presidential election. Only Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, including nominated MPs, vote in the Vice-Presidential election. And between the two houses, the BJP has 395 MPs, or votes – seven more than the victory mark of 388.

Opposition leaders said a formal meeting on the vice-presidential election would take place not earlier than next week. The tenure of present Venkaiah Naidu ends on August 10.