New Delhi: BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh was on July 16 picked by the NDA as its Vice-Presidential candidate to take on the UPA nominee Hamid Ansari. The decision was taken at a meeting of NDA leaders held at BJP patriarch L.K. Advani’s residence on July 16.
Although the numbers clearly favor the UPA nominee, the BJP-led NDA decided not to give the ruling combine a walk-over for two reasons.
One, it wanted to record its opposition to Ansari’s candidature. Two, it wished to dispel the widespread perception that the NDA is not united as this view had gathered currency after two of its partners, Janata Dal (U) and the Shiv Sena, broke ranks with the BJP to support UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election.
Both the Shiv Sena and the JD (U) have supported Jaswant Singh’s candidature which was endorsed unanimously at July 16 NDA meeting. Announcing Jaswant Singh’s candidature, Advani disclosed that the BJP had requested Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav to contest for the post of Vice-President, but he declined the offer.
In his first response to his nomination, Jaswant Singh said: “I am honored with the responsibility given to me.”
The senior BJP leader also made it a point to underline that unlike the Presidential election, the NDA would be voting unitedly in the Vice-President’s poll. This view was subsequently endorsed by the JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav.