The BJP parliamentary board will be meeting Saturday evening to pick the party’s candidate for the post of Vice President of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders of the party will attend the meeting.
This will be followed by another meeting of all BJP MPs ahead of the presidential election on July 18, in which the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance candidate Droupadi Murmu has a clear advantage over the Opposition’s Yashwant Sinha. After the BJP threw in its hat with Murmu, set to be India’s first tribal President, political watchers are keen to see if the party will now opt for a more seasoned face from its ranks for the vice presidential candidate.
In 2017, the party had named the then Cabinet minister M Venkaiah Naidu, a former BJP president and veteran parliamentarian, as its vice president candidate, after surprising everyone by picking the then Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, for the presidential contest.
Both Kovind and Naidu had won the polls comfortably to occupy the two highest constitutional posts of the country.
The BJP is again in a strong position to ensure the win of its candidates. The electoral college for picking the next vice president, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairperson, comprises members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Out of Parliament’s current strength of 780, the BJP alone has 394 MPs, more than the majority mark of 390.
The term of Naidu, the present incumbent, ends on August 10. The last date for filing of nomination papers for the poll is July 19 and the election is scheduled for August 6. The parliamentary board is the BJP’s apex organisational body, and its members include Modi and Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, and Nitin Gadkari besides party president J P Nadda, among others.
The BJP will consult its allies like the JD(U) and also reach out to different parties to seek a consensus over the choice, amid indications that the opposition will also field its candidate to force a contest, as it has for the presidential poll.