NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar, who has been pitted against Opposition pick Margaret Alwa, is set for an easy victory in the vice-presidential election on Saturday as the numbers are stacked in favour of him.
Members of Parliament of both houses will vote to elect the 16th vice-president of India in the election.
The term of incumbent M Venkaiah Naidu ends on August 10. The vice-president is also the chairperson of Rajya Sabha.
Alva, 80, is a Congress veteran and has served as governor of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, while the 71-year-old Dhankhar is a Jat leader from Rajasthan with a socialist background.
Dhankhar met a number of BJP MPs at his residence on Friday. These include Sushil Kumar Modi, Gautam Gambhir, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Rajendra Agrawal, Pradeep Choudhary and Kartikeya Sharma, among others. He has been meeting party MPs while seeking their support for the poll.
With the support of some regional parties such as the Janta Dal (United), YSRCP, BSP, AIADMK and Shiv Sena, the NDA nominee is likely to get over 515 votes, enough for a comfortable win for him.
On the other hand, cracks were visible in Opposition unity as Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress decided to abstain from voting alleging a lack of consultations while deciding on the name of Alva. The TMC has 23 MPs in Lok Sabha and 16 in Rajya Sabha.
Alva, however, received the backing of regional party Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) on Friday, two days after Aam Aadmi Party and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) lent their support to the opposition candidate. The AIMIM has also extended its support to Alva.
Alva is likely to get over 200 votes, going by the support announced by parties for her candidature so far. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge also hosted a dinner on Thursday night to thank all opposition MPs who are supporting Alva.
While polling will be held from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, the ballots will be counted immediately after that. By late Saturday evening, the returning officer will announce the name of the next vice-president.
Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including nominated members, are eligible to vote in the vice presidential poll.
The electoral college in the vice-presidential election comprises a total of 788 members of both Houses of Parliament. Since all the electors are members of both Houses of Parliament, the value of vote of each MP would be the same – one, the Election Commission has said.
Unlike the presidential poll where voting takes place in multiple locations as elected MLAs, not nominated, also form part of the electoral college, in the vice presidential election, voting takes place in Parliament House.