Reports suggest that Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the former governor of West Bengal, is the joint opposition’s candidate for the vice presidential elections. The news has filtered in amidst the ongoing conclave of non-NDA parties in New Delhi to decide on their vice presidential candidate. There were reports that the leaders were also looking at Dalit politician Prakash Ambedkar as a possible pick.
Gandhi was earlier amongst the top contenders as the Opposition pick for the President, but seems to have lost favour since for a Dalit candidate instead. Meira Kumar, the former speaker of the Lok Sabha under the UPA government, is the presidential candidate of the bloc of eighteen parties, chief among which stand the Congress party that still holds sway in the Rajya Sabha. The elections for the President of India are set for Monday next week, while the Vice President will be chosen next month. The delay has been primarily due to the bickering in the Opposition bloc that allowed Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) to switch allegiance to the NDA candidate and former governor of Bihar Ram Nath Kovind. Kumar had earlier stated months earlier that Gandhi would be a welcome choice for the President, and it is keeping his earlier opinion in mind that the Congress-led bloc has chosen Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, as their choice. Nitish Kumar was, however, conspicuous by his absence in today’s deliberations although he has stated categorically that his siding with the BJP on the presidential elections is one-off and is in no way a threat to the grand alliance that swept Bihar last year. The JD(U) was represented by Sharad Yadav in today’s meeting.
Today’s conclave was attended by delegates of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. Rahul Gandhi, whose mother is the Congress chief, was also present along with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.