New Delhi: Former West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, 71, on Saturday was elected as the 16th Vice-President of India. The Election Commission announced that the NDA nominee emerged victorious in the election in which he was pitted against the Opposition’s candidate Margaret Alva.
As the term of incumbent Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu ends on August 10, the members of both Houses of the Parliament on Saturday voted to elect the next Vice-President.
Utpal Kumar Singh, returning officer for the vice presidential election, said that out of total 780 electors, only 725 voted. Of these, 15 were found invalid. As per the Election Commission, Dhankhar secured a total of 528 first preference votes, while Alva got only 182 votes.
Once a “reluctant politician”, Dhankhar’s re-emergence in the political scene in 2019 as West Bengal governor and now as the Vice President of India has surprised many.
A man of many interests, his long legal career at the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court and a brief stint as the junior parliamentary affairs minister at the Centre will come in handy as he presides over the Rajya Sabha as its Chairman.
Dhankhar, who had been associated with the Janata Dal and the Congress, joined the BJP only in 2008 after a hiatus of nearly a decade. He championed issues related to Other Backward Classes, including the grant of OBC status to the Jat community in Rajasthan.
While his surprise appointment as the West Bengal governor in 2019 brought him back to the political limelight, he did not shy away from the hurly-burly of politics and was caught in frequent run-ins with the state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The BJP described Dhankhar as ‘kisan putra’ while announcing his candidature for the vice presidential election, a move seen in the political circles aimed at reaching out to the politically significant Jat community which had participated in huge numbers in the year-long farmers’ protests on the borders of the national capital against agriculture reform measures unveiled in June 2020.
BJP president JP Nadda described Dhankhar as a first-generation lawyer “fully equipped in administrative capacity”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said Dhankhar has excellent knowledge of the Constitution and is well-versed with legislative affairs.
“I am sure that he will be an outstanding chair in the Rajya Sabha and guide the proceedings of the House with the aim of furthering national progress,” the PM said on July 16.
His election as Vice President will also mean that the presiding officers of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will be from Rajasthan, among the only two states currently ruled by Congress governments, which incidentally goes to polls next year.