New Delhi, Aug 5: The 17-member Opposition bloc suffered a rout in the vice presidential poll as their joint candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi faced a crushing defeat. NDA nominee M Venkaiah Naidu won with a decisive margin of 272 votes. Post-poll analysis signals concern for the Opposition, as cracks emerge within their ranks.
Naidu, despite being pledged support by 495 lawmakers ahead of the V-P election, ended up receiving 516 votes. His rival, Gandhi, bagged 244 out of the total 771 valid votes. ALSO READ: Non-Party Man Now, Will Uphold Decorum of Rajya Sabha, Says Vice President-elect Venkaiah Naidu
In the presidential election held last month, Opposition nominee Meira Kumar had received votes of 225 MPs. However, Gandhi was expecting 40 more votes from lawmakers, as compared to Kumar, since the Biju Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United) had extended support to him.
BJD (28) and JD-U (12) had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential poll, who had received votes of 522 MPs. The two parties, however, decided to back the Opposition pick in the V-P election. Despite them contributing 40 more votes to Gandhi, he could bag only 19 more than what was polled by Kumar.
On the other hand, despite desertion by 40 MPs, the NDA’s vote count went down by only six, underlining major cross-voting in its favour. ALSO READ: Victory For Ballot, Says Gopal Krishna Gandhi After Rout in Vice Presidential Poll, Vows to Continue Ideological Battle
Bharatiya Janata Party sources, while speaking to news agency PTI, said nearly two dozen MPs from the Opposition ranks defied their party line and voted in favour of Naidu. However, such conclusion could not be accurate, considering the fact that 9 Opposition lawmakers – 2 each from Congress, IUML, 1 from NCP and 4 from TMC – were absent from voting.
The Returning Officer also told reporters here that 11 votes polled in the V-P election were found invalid.
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad described the unity of Opposition as the silver-lining in the V-P election. “We have lost today because the numbers were in NDA’s favour. But this is not an ideological defeat. The Opposition has shown that it will not compromise on ideology irrespective of win or loss,” said Azad, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Gandhi, the defeated candidate, reiterated Azad’s point, saying the ideological battle would continue. “Today is the victory of the ballot. It is a proud day in our democracy. My fight was not against any individual. As far as the ideological battle goes, it will continue,” he said, while addressing the press.