After Presidential poll, another setback for BJP’s hope of getting more groupings against the Congress
Vice-President Hamid Ansari was elected for a second term on Tuesday, with a comfortable margin. He got 490 votes, while Jaswant Singh, the candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got 238. The electorate comprised members of the two Houses of Parliament.
As in the 2007 election, Ansari was sponsored by the ruling United Progressive Alliance coalition, led by the Congress party. The BJP had planned to to rejuvenate the NDA by using the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections to bring more opposition parties together against the UPA. However, this didn’t happen. The BJP had decided to support P A Sangma for the Presidential election after he’d been proposed by two non-UPA and non-NDA chief ministers, one of whom was Naveen Patnaik of Odisha. It had hoped Patnaik would reciprocate by supporting the BJP nominee in the VP poll. However, Patnaik didn’t even agree to meet Jaswant Singh, and directed his party to abstain from the voting.
“We decided to abstain because we didn’t want to be seen with the BJP. We have to go back to our constituencies in Odisha and we could not have been seen supporting a BJP candidate. There was division within the BJD, as a large section didn’t want to support Jaswant Singh, while some people were ready. Some of the BJD members were agreeable to vote for Hamid Ansari as well but we finally decided not to support wither BJP or Congress,” said a senior BJD leader.
Another setback came from Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the other early sponsor of Sangma’s candidature. She did finally agree to support Jaswant Singh but just a day before the VP poll.
Many BJP leaders feel their earlier allies must come together if the NDA is to form government after the Lok Sabha election in 2014. However, the way this was done in the Presidential and VP poll has had its critics. “It is difficult to understand what the BJP gained by nominating candidates for the Presidential and Vice Presidential election. The NDA has not been able to get the kind of support the BJP had hoped for. Even important allies like the Shiv Sena and Janata Dal (United) voted against the BJP’s candidate and instead chose to vote in favour of Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA candidate,” said an NDA leader.
BJP seniors were also hoping to get support from the Telugu Desam and the YSR Congress from Andhra but the two parties didn’t back the NDA candidates, even though the two have deep rivalries with the Congress in that state.
While initially backing former President Abdul Kalam for the Presidential election, the BJP had hoped to capitalise on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s differences with the Congress. But Kalam didn’t agree to contest and Banerjee changed her mind, deciding to support not only Pranab Mukherjee but also back Hamid Ansari in the VP election.