National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar and Opposition candidate Margaret Alva, a Congress veteran, filed their nomination papers for the Vice-Presidential elections to be held on August 6. Dhankhar filed his papers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of various parties supporting his bid.
Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh; BJP president J. P. Nadda; Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Lalan Singh; Union Ministers Anupriya Patel, Pashupati Nath Paras and Ramdas Athawale; and the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) Pinaki Misra were present when the former West Bengal Governor filed his papers for the election in which his win is all but certain.
Before filing his nomination, Dhankhar attended a meeting of MPs from different parties supporting his candidature. Dhankhar was till recently the Governor of West Bengal; a Lok Sabha member between 1989-1991 from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan; Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in 1990; and a member of the Rajasthan Assembly from 1993-98.
Opposition candidate Margaret Alva, was accompanied by the Congress' Rahul Gandhi, besides NCP's Sharad Pawar, CPM's Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja. Alva, 80, a former governor of Rajasthan and other states, said, “the coming together of the opposition to support my candidature... is a metaphor of the reality that is India. We come from various corners of this great country, speak different languages, and follow different religions and customs. Our unity, in our diversity, is our strength."
The winner will succeed M Venkaiah Naidu, whose term ends on August 10. The Vice-President is also the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. All members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including nominated ones, form the electoral college that votes in these polls.
Alva has acknowledged the odds: "I know it is a difficult battle, but in politics, winning and losing is not the issue. The issue is fighting the battle... I am not going to be scared of anyone."
Despite claims of Opposition unity, no leader from the Trinamool Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party was present during the nomination-filing. Both parties were absent also at the meeting where Alva was chosen as candidate.