With the battle lines drawn for the July 19 presidential election,
the focus is gradually shifting to the vice-presidential poll in
August, for which incumbent M. Hamid Ansari appears to be a strong
contender, Congress sources said Saturday.
After having had its way on fielding Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee for the
next president, the Congress appears keen to call the shots in the
vice-presidential election as well.
Congress sources said that there was a possibility of Ansari
getting a second term at the high post but other names were also
doing the rounds. These included former union minister Mohsina
Kidwai, the Rajya Sabha's former deputy chairman K. Rahman Khan
and Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Saifuddin Soz.
A party leader, insisting on anonymity, said that generally the
vice president was chosen for the post of president if the same
party continued in power. However, since Mukherjee was named for
presidency, "I feel he (Ansari) may be renominated," the leader
He said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which
announced support for Mukherjee in the presidential poll, may back
Ansari if he was renominated as vice-president.
Ansari was a common candidate of the UPA and the Left parties in
the vice-presidential poll in 2007. His term comes to end Aug 10.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, in a recent TV
interview, praised Ansari saying he had conducted himself
admirably as the vice-president.
At one point, Ansari was in the reckoning as the Congress choice
for the post of president along with Mukherjee, who was eventually
chosen as the official UPA nominee.
A party leader said that there was high probability of Ansari
being re-nominated as the vice-president as he had missed the
UPA's nomination as the presidential candidate.
Congress leaders said there was "sufficient time" to decide the
vice-presidential candidate and an announcement was likely to be
made after the declaration of the presidential poll result July
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to chart
its course warily in the vice presidential election as two of its
allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) broke ranks with
it and declared their support to Mukherjee in the presidential
The party decided to contest the presidential poll so as to not
allow a "walkover" to the Congress and not to be seen as backing a
nominee of what it has consistently called a "failed" government.
The name of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was doing
the rounds, initially, as a possible choice of the NDA in the
BJP leader Jaswant Singh met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh
Yadav earlier this month, fuelling speculation about his interest
in the vice president's post.
The vice president is elected by an electoral college consisting
of members of both houses of parliament, in accordance with the
system of proportional representation by the means of the single
transferable vote. The voting is by secret ballot.