Flanked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and veteran BJP leader LK Advani, former Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday filed his nomination papers for the vice-presidential election. The veteran politician, one of BJP’s most prominent faces in the national as well as South Indian politics, also quit his party of many years.
Naidu asserted that his new responsibility compels him to rise above party politics, adding that if elected he would work to strengthen the Parliamentary democratic system and uphold the traditions and dignity of the office. He has also resigned from his position as a Cabinet minister. However he will continue as a Member of Parliament as voting and discussions on crucial issues are pending. He said that if all goes well, he’ll soon give up that responsibility also.
BJP president Amit Shah, senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi as well as leaders from BJP allies and those from other regional parties, including the AIADMK and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, accompanied Naidu as he filed his papers in the Parliament House. Members of the Shiv Sena was also present.
Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and several top leaders of the NDA were among those who proposed and seconded Naidu’s candidature in the several sets of nomination papers filed in his favour. After filing his nomination, Naidu talked to the media. He said that he was honoured to be the NDA candidate for vice-president.
He thanked Modi and Shah for their support and said that he hoped that he would be able to do justice to the office. He insisted that there will be no election campaign for the post. He named the various luminaries who have graced the office of the Vice-President like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Shankar Dayal Sharma and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
“I am clear about the responsibility of the Vice President’s post. I will of course endeavour to strengthen the parliamentary democratic system and I will uphold the traditions and standards set by my worthy predecessors and the dignity of the office of Vice President,” Naidu told the media.
He also noted the modalities of the election which will be held on 5 August. The tenure of the incumbent Vice-President Hamid Ansari will end on 10 August and the new Vice-President will take office on 11 August.
He said that he did not want to make many comments on election at this time but said that this was more a greeting than a meeting. He said that he’s an ordinary person from a humble agricultural background with no great family history. He maintained that he rose in life due to the support of the people and BJP. He added that he has been entrusted with various responsibilities by the party and has greatly enjoyed working for the people.
He mentioned the loss of his mother at an early age and how it meant that the party became his mother and brought him up. He stressed his pain at leaving the party and admitted to being a little emotional.
He said he planned to work and get Modi back in power in 2019 after which he wanted to do social service. However destiny decided otherwise and he accepted the decision of the party to nominate him as its Vice-Presidential candidate.
He took leave of political leaders in the BJP and other allied parties. He admitted that now there was no question of going to party offices and hoped to meet the leaders as part of his other official responsibilities.
Naidu, known to be a BJP loyalist had been associated with the saffron party since the start of his political career spanning over 40 years. He had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, BJP’s ideological fountainhead in his college days. He gained prominence as a student leader as the member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, BJP’s youth wing, before he took the political plunge.
The BJP’s Parliamentary Board had on Monday picked Naidu as the NDA’s vice presidential nominee. The senior BJP leader resigned as Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting minister hours before he filed his nomination papers.
Smriti Irani has been given the additional charge of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting while the additional charge of the Ministry of Urban Development has been given to Narendra Singh Tomar
Naidu will contest against the opposition’s vice presidential nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi.