It’s still a triangular contest for Vice President

A triangular contest was on the cards for the vice presidential election Aug 10 as the three candidates who were cleared following the scrutiny of papers remained in the fray Thursday, the last day for withdrawing nominations.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), along with the Left Front and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and others, has fielded National Commission of Minorities chairman and former diplomat Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

From the main opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the candidate is Najma Heptullah of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Rajya Sabha MP and a former deputy chairperson of the upper house.

Some NDA constituents and BJP allies including the Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have so far avoided committing themselves on the vice presidential poll, after not aligning with the coalition on the presidential election July 19.

The newly constituted ‘third front’ of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), comprising mainly of parties aligning neither with the Congress nor the BJP, has nominated Rasheed Masood, the Samajwadi Party MP from Saharanpur.

The electoral college for the vice presidential elections comprises of the 789 members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – the Lok Sabha has 542 elected and two nominated members, while the Rajya Sabha has 236 elected and nine nominated members.

The UPA along with those of the Left Front, the BSP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has a clear edge over the other two alliances in terms of numbers.

The UPA and its allies have a combined strength of 418 in the two houses, whereas the NDA minus Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress and JD-S has only 220 MPs.

As for the UNPA, some of its key constituents like the AIADMK, MDMK, the Asom Gana Parishad and the India National Lok Dal (INLD) had defied the group’s collective decision to boycott the presidential poll and had voted for NDA candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

With its own candidate in the fray, “there is no such compulsion in this election”, said a close confidante of Masood, expressing confidence that the UNPA candidate would get many more votes than their strength of 129.

The third front expects some NDA allies like Trinamool and JD-S to vote for Masood.

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