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Posted at: Aug 7, 2017, 12:19 AM; last updated: Aug 7, 2017, 12:19 AM (IST)

Honourable Venkaiah Naidu

New custodian of Rajya Sabha role and autonomy
Honourable Venkaiah Naidu
AS expected, M Venkaiah Naidu prevailed over Gopalkrishna Gandhi in the vice-presidential election last Saturday. For the BJP-led NDA, the vice-presidential contest had become one more occasion to demonstrate its political dominance over the constitutional architecture; for the Congress-led Opposition, the election was an opportunity to reaffirm a set of democratic values and ideas. Naidu’s victory was a foregone conclusion, and he had, for good measure, a few extra cross-votes in his kitty. Seen in a larger context, Naidu’s accession to the vice-presidential gaddi demonstrates Indian democracy’s inclusive promise. His humble background was no obstacle to achievement of distinction, first within his party and now on a much bigger stage. He is the most prominent leader the BJP has promoted from “the South” over the years and his presence in the vice-presidential chair will be reassuring, at least symbolically, to fellow-Indians living below the Vindhyas. 

As Vice-President, Venkaiah Naidu will preside over the Rajya Sabha as its chairman. It is gratifying that after his victory he committed himself to “uphold the dignity of the House”. He takes over as Chairman at a time when there is a systematic attempt by the ruling party (of which he was a key member till the other day) to saw off the Upper House’s role and importance. The Upper House exists as a part of a deliberate and well-considered constitutional mechanism of checks and balances — balancing popular will against sober and responsible reflection, and, the Centre against the States. It will be now up to Venkaiah Naidu to try to roll back the onslaught on the Rajya Sabha.

The Vice-President-designate has been a seasoned political activist, keeping afloat his party’s flag in a part of the country that was otherwise unenthusiastic about the saffron appeal and propaganda. His party has recognised and rewarded him for this perseverance. All his life Mr Naidu has lived under the shadow of another, taller leader; now he will be called upon to be his own man. A change of roles is not easy to come by; but, then, he will be taking an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India”.

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