The BJP-led NDA has decided to field Jaswant Singh for the “token contest” for vice-president after Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav refused enter the fray that is heavily tilted in favour of the UPA’s Hamid Ansari.
The decision to field Jaswant, a former minister for foreign affairs and finance, was taken for the sheer sake of denying a walkover to Ansari who has an overwhelming advantage in the electoral college consisting of
members of the two Houses of Parliament. With the Left backing Ansari, he has the assured support of 475 of the 790 electors.
The combined tally of the NDA and two potential regional outfits—J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD— stands at a modest 265. The consolation is that, unlike in the case of the presidential polls where the JD(U) and Shiv Sena are supporting UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, all the NDA constituents have stuck together over the vice-presidential contest.
The UPA is hopeful of support from parties like Trinamool Congress, TDP, TRS and YSR Congress who, along with Independents, make up the “undecided” lot with a vote share of 53. However, it will be home and dry even if all the fencesitters break for the NDA.