While the NDA had chosen West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, a jat, from Gujarat as a candidate for the post of vice-president on Saturday, the 17-party conglomeration of the opposition has selected Margaret Alva of Karnataka on Sunday. She was governor of many States after working as union minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Dhankhar as ‘kisan putra (son of a farmer)’ and praised him to the sky. Dhankhar is like any other politician- nothing extraordinary about him. He worked as a minister in Rajashtan, was a member of union cabinet in 1990-91, then left Janata Dal to join the Congress. Left Congress and shifted to BJP in 2003 after Gehlot became powerful in Rajasthan Congress. Most importantly, Dhankhar is known to be the bête noire of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Dhankhar was appointed as Governor of West Bengal in 2019 and he has been needling Mamata ever since on daytoday basis.
Dhankar would be presiding over Rajya Sabha in his capacity of Vice-President of India. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also is from Rajasthan, the State run by the Congress. It is going to polls next year. An upper caste politician Dhankhar’s selection will make his class friendly to Modi. Modi has been very careful in selecting candidates for President and Vice-President. He picked up an adivasi woman in Draupadi Murmu from Jarkhand who will be the first tribal woman to be the president. She got the support of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (since she hails from Odisha, the State which has tribal population predominantly. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was forced his MPs to support Murmu. Akali Dal which has fallen apart from NDA is now supporting Murmu-Dhankhar ticket. Nitish Kumar who is known for his vacillation during critical times is firmly with Murmu. Even Mamata Banerjee appears to be unable to oppose Murmu openly with strong presence of the tribals in her State. So much so, her support to the Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha is not so very apparant. The Congress party also is not losing its sleep over canvassing for Sinha. The Congress has seconded Sinha’s candidature while it was proposed by Trinamool Congress. The selection of Murmu has made the opposition parties vulnerable.
The decision to field Margaret Alva as joint Opposition candidate for the post of Vice-President was announced by Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party who presided over the meeting of opposition party leaders. Sharad said 17 parties were on board for this unanimous decision and he has been trying to contact Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal of Trinamool Congress and Aam Admi Party respectively. The TMC said since it was busy otherwise, it could not attend the Delhi meeting. It will meet after July 21 under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and make a decision regarding the choice for VP. Shiv Sena’s Sanja Raut also was with Pawar when the selection is made. Shiv Sena is supporting NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu as president. Margaret Alva said it is a privilege and honour to fight election as an unanimous choice of the opposition parties.