Venkaiah Naidu becomes India’s 13th Vice-President, says will steer House without ‘fear or favour’

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Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Veteran BJP leader and NDA candidate Venkaiah Naidu was on Saturday elected 13th Vice-President of India after bagging majority of the votes of the electoral college comprising both the Houses of Parliament.

Naidu got 516 votes while his rival and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi received 244 votes.

The election saw almost 100 percent voting with 771 members casting their votes out of the 785 members. The voting percentage was 98.21 percent.

Shortly after he was elected as the new Vice President, Naidu said as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha he would sincerely try to steer the functioning of the House without “fear or favour” and uphold its dignity with cooperation of all members.

“As Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, I will sincerely try to steer the functioning of the House without fear or favour. I will uphold the dignity and decorum of the House with the cooperation of all the Members by acting as per the rules of business and the conventions of the House,” Naidu said.

He said he would make an endeavour to enable every member of the Upper House make meaningful contribution towards addressing the issues being faced by the country.

Naidu, who will succeed Hamid Ansari on August 10, said he was “humbled by the honour bestowed on me by electing me to the office of the Vice President of India” by virtue of which he also becomes the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and opposition leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, cast their votes to elect the country’s 13th Vice President.

The voting, which began at 10 am, saw 771 members casting their votes till 5 pm, Assistant Returning Officer Mukul Pandey told reporters at Parliament House. The counting of votes began at 6 pm.

Naidu, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha, left his house around 9.30 am and voted at around 10 am. He was accompanied by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and other BJP leaders.

Besides BJP veteran L.K. Advani, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also cast their votes.

Union Minister Vijay Goel, former Union Minister Sanwar Lal Jat and Rajya Sabha member from Chhattisgarh Bhushan Lal Jangde were among the 14 members who could not turn up for the voting. Jat is under treatment at AIIMS.

Opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi exchanged greetings with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders when he reached the voting centre.

He was accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and other opposition leaders.

Nominated Rajya Sabha members actress Rekha and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar also voted. Rekha was seen exchanging greetings with SP leader Dimple Yadav, the wife of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The Lok Sabha currently has 544 members and the Rajya Sabha 244. The Lok Sabha has two vacancies, while the Rajya Sabha has one vacancy.

BJP officials said that apart from the NDA’s 81 Rajya Sabha members and 338 Lok Sabha members, members of both Houses — of the AIADMK (50), YSR Congress (10) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (14), also voted in favour of Naidu.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former West Bengal Governor and a diplomat, had the support of the Congress, the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and National Conference. Janata Dal-United, which is now a part of NDA, had announced support for Gandhi.

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