Jagdeep Dhankar, the candidate of the Centre-ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has been declared as the winner of the Vice Presidential election held on August 6.
"NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar won by 346 votes as he bagged 528 of the total 725 votes that were cast. While 15 votes were termed invalid, opposition candidate Margret Alva received 182 votes in the election," Lok Sabha General-Secretary Utpal K Singh, who was the returning officer for the poll, told reporters.
The total number of eligible voters, comprising of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs, was 780. With 725 votes being cast, the total voter turnout was 92.94 percent, the officer added.
Dhankar, 71, will be administered the oath to office on August 11, a day after the tenure of incumbent Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is scheduled to expire.
Dhankar, who was serving as the governor of West Bengal till his nomination was announced last month, faced a challenge from ex-Union minister and former five-time Congress MP, Margaret Alva. Her candidature was backed by a major section of the opposition parties.
Dhankar held the number's edge moving into the polls, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA has over 425 lawmakers in its camp, which is more than half out of the total 780 votes that were to be cast. With parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Shiv Sena and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) extending support to Dhankar, the number was expected to cross the 500-mark.Alva, on the other hand, was expected to receive around 200 votes on the basis of the electoral strength of the political parties that extended support to her. With 182 votes being officially registered in her favour, it remains to be seen whether the opposition block was hit by cross-voting.
PM Narendra Modi meets Vice-President elect Jagdeep Dhankhar soon after his election to the office, at his residence in Delhi pic.twitter.com/7BvYOurskk
— ANI (@ANI) August 6, 2022
Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated Dhankar following his victory in the polls. "The Upper House will definitely benefit from his experience and close understanding of the ground issues," Shah tweeted.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Dhankar's long public life, wide experience and deep understanding of people’s issues will certainly benefit the nation. "I'm confident that he'll make an exceptional V-P and Rajya Sabha Chairman," he said.
Alva, the losing candidate, also congratulated Dhankar on social media. She, however, criticised a section of the opposition parties which did not back her candidature.
"Unfortunately, some opposition parties chose to directly or indirectly support the BJP, in an attempt to derail the idea of a united opposition. It is my belief that by doing so, these parties and their leaders have damaged their own credibility," Alva tweeted.
This election is over. The battle for protecting our Constitution, strengthening our democracy & restoring the dignity of Parliament, will continue.
Jai Hind.— Margaret Alva (@alva_margaret) August 6, 2022
Dhankar's ascent as India's next V-P
Dhankar was born on May 18, 1951, in an agrarian household of a remote village located in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district. He completed his early school education from Sainik School, Chittorgarh, and went on to pursue law from the University of Rajasthan.
Before entering the public life, Dhankar was a successful lawyer, having practiced in both the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court.
Dhankhar made political forays in the mid-1980s, and was elected as a Lok Sabha from Jhunjhuna in 1989 on the Janata Dal ticket. He served as the Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in 1990, in the minority government headed by Chandra Shekhar. In the subsequent years, he switched to the Congress and and served as an MLA from Rajasthan's Kishangarh between 1993 and 1998.
Dhankar's next political stop was the BJP, with analyst attributing his decision to switch over to the rise of Ashok Gehlot within the Congress camp. Dhankar remained an active member of the saffron party over the next decade, and also served as the convenor of its legal department in 2016.
He was appointed as the governor of West Bengal in July 2019, and the three-year stint saw him at loggerheads with Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee, however, did not oppose to his nomination as the NDA's V-P candidate. Her party, which is the Parliament's second-largest opposition bloc after the Congress, decided to abstain from the voting.
Dhankar, as the next V-P, would be succeeding Venkaiah Naidu, a veteran leader of the BJP, who was elected to the top post in 2017.Dhankar's victory also comes less than a month after NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu swept the Presidential polls with a landslide mandate.