New Delhi, July 17: Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu was announced on Monday as the vice presidential candidate of the National Democratic Alliance. Naidu, the Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Urban Development, would be pitted against Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who is backed by 18 opposition parties.

Naidu’s candidature was unexpected within the political circles, considering his active role in the central government, along with his constant involvement in the political activities of BJP. The 68-year-old had himself denied being the potential candidate for the vice presidential post in the past month.  “I have no intention to become the rashtrapati or uprashtrapati. I am happy serving as Usha-pati (husband of his wife Usha),” he had remarked.

According to BJP sources, one of the reasons why Naidu was nominated for the Vice President’s post is due to his vast experience in parliamentary affairs. The Vice President, apart from being the deputy to the President of India, also plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Legislature, being the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. ALSO READ: Venkaiah Naidu, BJP-led NDA’s Pick For Vice Presidential Poll: A Look Back at His 30 Years of Political Career

“The years of Parliamentary experience Venkaiah Naidu has will help him discharge the important role of Rajya Sabha Chairperson,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

The election for the Vice President’s post would be held on August 5, with the counting of votes to be held on the same day. The BJP-led NDA holds the number’s edge, with over 60 per cent of the electoral college expected to vote in favour of Naidu. ALSO READ: Who is Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the Opposition’s pick for vice presidential polls?

In the vice presidential polls, only the lawmakers of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are eligible to vote. From the Upper House, 233 elected MPs and 12 nominated members would cast their vote, whereas, a total of 543 MPs and 2 nominated members would cast their vote from the Lower House.

Naidu is expected to bag the support of 557 MPs in the electoral college of 790 MPs. The figure is primarily constituted by the MPs of BJP and its allies, along with the lawmakers of AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and YSR Congress from the non-NDA camp. The Biju Janata Dal, who voted in favour of NDA candidate Ramnath Kovind in the presidential election, is yet to announce its support for Naidu.

Considering the electoral advantage for Naidu, the vice presidential election may witness a historic mandate for the veteran BJP leader. In the 2012 polls, the incumbent Vice President Dr Hamid Ansari won with a mandate of 490 votes, with BJP’s Jaswant Singh receiving the remaining 238.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi conceded the fact that numbers are not in favour of Gopal Krishna Gandhi. During a meeting with Opposition leaders on Sunday, she said, “Numbers may be against us. But battle must be fought, and fought hard.”