The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) today formally announced the name of Mohammad Hamid Ansari as its candidate for the Vice-Presidential election, paving the way for a second term for Ansari. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed his name, it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi who announced it at a meeting with allies in the capital today.
Meanwhile, UPA constituent, Trinamool Congress (TMC)—which has till date not supported UPA’s Presidential choice Pranab Mukherjee— today proposed the names of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Krishna Bose, but the other UPA constituents backed Ansari. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)—which had expressed their support for the UPA Presidential candidate — have expressed their willingness to back the VP nominee as well.
TMC representative and Railway Minister Mukul Roy, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said, “I will communicate this to my party chief Mamata Banerjee, and she will take a final call on the issue.”
The PM had called up Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj before the UPA meeting to inform them about UPA’s intention to give Ansari a second term.
A few days back, the prime minister had called up Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat, proposing Ansari’s name. Karat then stated that the Left party would prefer a non-Congress person as VP. Incidentally, the Left parties, which had rendered outside support to the UPA-I, had proposed the name of Ansari for the Vice-Presidentship in 2007.
The PM had also spoken to Deve Gowda of the JD (S) and Sharad Yadav of the JD (U), in an attempt to solicit their support for Ansari.
The UPA had shortlisted Ansari and Pranab Mukherjee as its probable candidates for the Presidential polls. And, after Mukherjee became the final choice for the post of President, it was a matter of formality that Ansari would be considered for the Vice-President’s post.
According to political analysts, it is unlikely that Banerjee, who has made her displeasure with UPA clear by refusing to attend any of the combine’s meeting and dinners, will give her party’s support for Ansari. The fact that Ansari was originally a Left-backed candidate in his first term as VP would make it difficult for Banerjee to support him, as it would be construed as siding with the Left.