BJP is all set to announce its candidate for the Vice President: Who holds the edge?

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is all set to announce its candidate for the Vice Presidential elections on Saturday - July 16, two days ahead of the Presidential polls. The five-year tenure of the incumbent Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is coming to an end on August 10 and the parties would be locking horns by triggering a race. The BJP will be announcing its candidate after making a final pick at the party's parliamentary board meeting that will be held on Saturday. 

India will witness the presidential polls on July 18 - Monday and the results will be announced on July 21. The absence of a consensual candidate between the ruling and the opposition has warranted voting and the MPs and MLAs across the country would cast their vote at their respective polling booths. While the BJP has fielded former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu as its presidential candidate, the opposition parties have nominated former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha for the nation's highest office.

In the race to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Murmu holds the advantage as the BJP has secured majority numbers with a sufficing vote bank of MPs and MLAs and with the backing of several regional parties. As per the current tally, Murmu has a comfortable leading and had she won, she would become India's first person from the Tribal community and second woman President of India. As the sign of victory in the Presidential polls is now in sight for the BJP, the central-ruling party is now moving to see it for the Vice presidential polls as well.  

Unlike the presidential polls where the BJP needs to gain the support of the MLAs of the regional parties, the vice presidential election isn't going to be a humongous task for the party as the MLAs won't have a business in electing the Vice President. Only MPs would be voting for the second-highest office in the country and on the pool of MPs, BJP has a clear majority in Lok Sabha and it can easily gain support from the allied parties in the Rajya Sabha. 

Who holds the edge?

After putting the first tribal president into the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the BJP has crafted a plan to seat a candidate from the minority community in the Upa-Rashtrapati Bhavan, for which, the recently-resigned Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi becomes an ideal candidate. When he took the nation by surprise by relinquishing the ministerial post, it was reported that he has stepped down to step into the nation's second-highest office and he has been a frontrunner for the post with no big contenders. 

Speaking to a news agency, a senior BJP leader said, "Naqvi has always been showing his political maturity, impartiality, and uprightness throughout his tenure as a Union Minister of Minority Affairs and as a deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha." In the recent Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha byelections in Uttar Pradesh, Naqvi played a prominent role in the victory of BJP candidates. With his national prominence and strong backing from senior leaders, he is most likely to become the BJP's candidate for Vice President. 

However, there are other names in the fray. According to reports, former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, sitting Union Minister Hardeep Puri, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan are also in the race. The winner will be announced on Saturday. The parliamentary board is BJP's apex organisational body headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The board's members include BJP President JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The last date for filing nominations for the vice presidential election is July 19 and the election would be held on August 6. On the other hand, the opposition parties will meet on July 17 to discuss their joint candidate.