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Huge cross-voting marks Venkaiah Naidu's election as Vice President

Last Modified Sunday, 6 August 2017 (10:57 IST)
New Delhi: Huge  marked the election of BJP-led NDA nominee M as the 13th of India. "Out of 771 votes polled, Mr Naidu got 516 votes as against 244 polled by opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi," Returning Officer for Vice President polls Shumsher K Sheriff, who is the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, told reporters.

As per their numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the NDA nominee was expected to secure about 480 votes but the ultimately figures suggest there was cross-voting by as many as 36 MPs from the 18-party opposition camp. Former West Bengal Governor Mr Gandhi, who gave a spirited fight, was present at the counting centre till the last moment and walked away from the venue minutes before the announcement of the results.

His downcast look said it all as he smiled and folded hands skirting direct replies to media queries. Mr Gandhi, however, said he was more than satisfied with the number of votes he garnered. In contrast, BJP leader and NDA representative at the counting centre Bhupender Yadav was in an upbeat mood. The major highlight of the voting today was the absence of 12 MPs from the opposition camp.

These included four from Mamata Benerjee-led Trinamool Congress. Others included: Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, Tapas Pal, Pratima Mondal and Kunal Ghosh (all AITC), Ranee Narah and Mausam Noor (both Congress), UdayanRaje Bhosale (NCP), P K Kunhalakutty and Abdul Wahab (both IUML), Anu Aga and Naba Kumar Sarania (Independent) and Sanwar lal Jat (BJP). Significantly enough, Ms Banerjee's nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee also skipped the voting process.

Ironically, it was Trinamool leader Derek O' Brien who had proposed the name of Mr Gandhi as the candidate for the Vice President polls in the meeting of the opposition parties where it was decided that the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi should be named as the opposition nominee.
Ms Mamata Banerjee, however, lauded the manner he took the contest. "In the tradition of our democracy, Gopalkrishna Gandhi Ji fought this election with dignity for certain ideals," she said in a tweet.

The Returning Officer, Mr Sheriff, told reporters that of the 771 votes polled, 11 were found invalid - while out of 785 eligible voters, there were 14 absentees. Of them also included Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel and Ajmer MP Sanwar Lal Jat. He said only one ballot box was used and according to election norms the box was sealed and later opened in the presence of opposition candidate Mr Gandhi and the representatives of the NDA candidate.

The BJP will have a virtual dream run in the corridors of power as for the first times - all the three key posts - President, Vice President and Prime Minister-ship now having persons from the saffron outfit and RSS background. Mr Naidu will replace incumbent Hamid Ansari, who is completing his second term in office on August 10. In today’s election, voter turn out was 98.21 per cent, with 771 MPs out of the 785 eligible ones casting their votes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Naidu’s rival Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi were the first to congratulate Mr Naidu on his election. "My best wishes for a fruitful & motivating tenure,’’ Mr Modi tweeted immediately after the results were announced. Among the two IUML MPs from Kerala - P K Kunhalakutty and Abdul Wahab - who were absent from the voting process, according to sources, could not make it to the polling venue on time due to delayed arrival of their flight. (UNI)
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