M A I N   N E W S

Ansari UPA choice for Vice-President
SP, BSP endorse candidature
TMC yet to decide
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
The ruling UPA-nominated incumbent Hamid Ansari is set to re-contest the vice-presidential elections. Ansari’s candidature found endorsement from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but key ally Trinamool Congress reserved its decision.

Ansari will share the unique distinction with India’s first Vice-President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan to run for a second term. “Mohd Hamid Ansari will shortly complete a term as Vice-President of India. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity and distinction. The UPA is honoured to nominate him as its candidate for a second term as Vice-President of India’’, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi announced at a meeting of the ruling coalition here at the Prime Minister’s 7, Race Course Road residence.

Soon after the decision was announced, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Ansari who agreed to the offer. In his brief statement, the Vice-President said: “So rare an honour can only be accepted in all humility. I thank the Prime Minister, the Chairperson of UPA, other ingredient members of the UPA and other parties who have supported my candidature for the confidence reposed in me for shouldering once again the responsibility of this high office.”

That the Congress-led coalition had made up its mind in favour of Ansari became known last week with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh contacting leaders of various political parties, including allies and supporting outfits.

The Trinamool Congress is yet to declare its stand. Union Minister Mukul Roy said the party had suggested the names of former Governor Gopal Gandhi and former MP Krishna Bose, a close relative of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for the post.

TMC leader in Kolkata said the party chief Mamata Banerjee told the PM that a decision would be taken in a few days after Manmohan Singh called her up seeking support from Ansari.

Interestingly, the UPA candidates for both the President and the Vice-President this year have a West Bengal connection, with Ansari having been born in Kolkata on April 1, 1937. The Prime Minister also spoke to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.

He also held telephonic talks with CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy. The CPI has called a meeting on July 18 to finalise its stand. The electoral college for the vice-presidential poll consists of 790 MPs. The UPA poll managers are confident of support of over 450 members, much above the 396 votes required to emerge a winner. July 20 is the last date for filing nominations.

Left backing likely

Indication from the Left parties, including the CPM, is that while they were not in favour of a Congress candidate, Ansari is acceptable since he does not belong to the Congress. The Left parties will hold consultations before making their position known next week.

Cakewalk for Ansari?

The electoral college for the August 7 vice-presidential poll consists of 790 MPs. The UPA poll managers are confident of support of over 450 members, much above 396 votes required for victory. July 20 is the last date for filing of nominations.






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