TODAY -

NDA poised to get its nominee into Upa Rashtrapati Bhawan too with ease

Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi *



After paving a smooth path to President Droupadi Murmu for the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the NDA formation is working out a safe and sure passage past the victory poll for its Vice Presidential candidate, from West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhanicar. More or less, the moment he was picked up as the NDA's Vice President candidate, polling for which is being held today, it was certain that he would get to be the new occupant of the UP Rashtrapati Bhawan, given the composition of the electoral college for the VP election.

It comprises all the members of the Parliament Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Why the VP poll becomes significant is that it has already sharpened the divide in the Opposition ranks with the major Opposition force from West Bengal, Trinamool Congress that was spearheading the unification of Opposition has itself declared it would abstain from the polling, using an excuse that it was not consulted in the choice of the common opposition candidate for VP Poll, former Union Minister and Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva.

The polling is being held to fin the vacancy being caused by the completion of the term of the incumbent Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. The electoral college for the Vice-Presidential poll comprising Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members stands at 775 with 543 in Lok Sabha and 232 in Rajya Sabha. The BJP on its own has 92 members in Rajya Sabha and 303 in Lok Sabha and as such the BJP on its own has seven votes more than the victory mark of 388.

Results will be declared today only, after polling gets over in the evening. With a dominating presence in the Parliament, the BJP and its NDA alliance partners can get their nominee elected without any hassle, despite a spirited campaign mounted by Opposition candidate, Alva She did hit the ground running after her nomination, and had called on Mamata Banerjee, her former colleague and friend, for support shortly after the West Bengal CM declared her decision to abstain from polling.

Somewhat hurt and sad, Alva did not let that come in her way to mount a dignified campaign, calling on MPs of all parties for support. The fact that TMC opted out of the voting process nearly puts paid to Alva's chances. Though, in the VP poll, she has been assured support of TRS of Telangana. What the TMC decision does is to puncture the fledgling Opposition unity and resolve to take on the BJP politically.

It weakens the Opposition's fight and campaign, giving enough fffepower to the BJP's arsenal on the state of Opposition. As expected, the TMC decision has had the Congress suspecting her of reaching an agreement for a deal with the BJP to avoid a confrontation with the ruling party at the Centre.

If the fault lines in Opposition grouping, exposed during the Presidential poll with the likes of Shibu Soren breaking ranks with the Opposition and the plethora of instances of cross voting in the election, the differences coming to the fore amongst the Opposition parties bodes ill for its candidate in VP poll and puts a big question mark on the preparations of a unified challenge to the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha general elections.

Although the President and Vice President elections are not likely to have a bearing on the outcome of the forth-coming Assembly elections to Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana next year, a victory of Murmu and Dhankar would surely give a boost W the morale of the NDA alliance partners. Victory of President Murmu also gives the NDA a better chance to cash in on the goodwill among tribal communities President Murmu's elevation brings in States like Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Telangana that have sizeable tribal populations. For the ruling BJP at the Centre, this is good news.

Plus a dilution of the Opposition unity, which anyway was doubtful given the individual political aspirations and ambitions of the different political party leaders from different parts of the country only helps the BJP. The Congress has got weakened so much that it does not command respect or acceptance from the other regional political formations, and no other political formation howsoever strong it may be in its region, outside is not known at all.

Of all the Opposition parties, if there is any party with a semblance of presence Nationally, it still is the Congress. The Congress, which has announced a Nationwide stir on price rise, inflation, and unemployment is failing to win the battle of perception given the timing of its stir that began right after its top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were hauled up by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald money laundering case.

The optics too do not seem terribly flattering for the Congress which is being seen to be agitating only aft. Enforcement Director action against its leadership. Does it mean, 2024 elections are done and dusted ? Well, not really, as they are a different kettle of fish. The probability of a BJP victory does appear to be high, but defeating the BJP is a theoretical possibility.

What political analysts are of the opposition still has a chance if it focuses ensuring a direct fight with the BJP, without the Opposition vote getting split. In Bihar, for example, a direct fight between the RJD-Cong combine very nearly defeated the JDU-BJP combine, but for the presence of smaller parties like AIMIM that cut into Opposition votes and secured a narrow victory for JDU-BJP combine headed by Nitish Kumar.

In Gujarat this time, AAP and other smaller formations may well smash the Congress. If the Opposition, or whichever regional force is stronger in whichever State engages the BJP in a direct fight there could be a chance to upset the ruling party in that region. But for this, the Opposition grouping must do exceedingly well in the BJP weak spots like the South and do very well in the Hindi heartland plus Gujarat.

If the Opposition gets its act together, the fight could become very interesting. But for that to happen, the essential condition is that the Congress must revive itself say in States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and few other States. But chances of this happening appear remote at this stage, given the state of the party, which is losing its key leaders to the BJP at an alarming rate.


* Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 07 2022.



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