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Wednesday 25 April, 2018, 8:09 pm

PM Modi Leads BJP Meeting, Venkaiah Naidu Front-Runner For Veep

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading a meeting of the BJP to finalise a name for Vice President. Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, believed to be the front-runner, said before going into the meeting: "I am not aspiring to become anything. Whatever the parliamentary board decides, that is final."

Sources have said that the candidate will likely be a person from south India, where the party wants to strengthen its presence. PM Modi, they say, will decide whether he is ready to spare a cabinet minister; it was the factor that ruled out a senior minister for the post of president.

Mr Naidu has displayed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the job. In May, he had quipped: "I neither want to become Rashtrapati (president), nor do I want to become Uprashtrapati (vice president). I am happy being Usha's pati (wife Usha's husband)."

Last month, he said more emphatically: "Never am I going to participate in the vice-presidential elections even if anyone compels me."

Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is another name in circulation for the polls to be held on August 5.
M Venkaiah Naidu is the front-runner to be BJP's choice for Vice President
Like in the case of President, the BJP's Vice President nominee is also expected to sail through; with the backing of southern parties like AIADMK, Telengana Rashtra Samiti and YSR Congress, the government candidate is likely to win the votes of 557 MPs in the electoral college of 787 MPs.

Sources say the BJP and its advisers have a clear set of requirements and Mr Naidu checks most boxes - which include the ability to run smoothly the Rajya Sabha, where the Vice President is chairman and where the government is currently in a minority, and belief in the core values of the BJP and its ideological mentor the RSS.

Opposition parties last week named as their vice presidential candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi, a former governor who was also briefly considered by them for the post of president.

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