Even as the poll process for the election of the President of India is on, the process for election of the Vice-President has been kick-started with the beginning of nominations on July 5. The term of incumbent Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu ends on August 10.
Unlike the presidential election, where the Bharatiya Janata Party needs support of allies and friendly parties, it has enough votes to ensure victory of the ruling dispensation’s candidate in the vice-presidential election.
But the choice of the nominee is not easy, as apart from playing the role of the second Constitutional head of the Government, the Vice-President also holds the position of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling party is still short of a majority and the presiding officer has to navigate through increasingly fractious proceedings when Parliament is in session.
Neither the BJP-led NDA nor the Opposition have announced their candidates for the post, however several names are doing the round.
Going by law, the VicePresident is supposed to be non-partisan. If a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of a Legislature of any state is elected as Vice-President, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date he/ she enters his office as VicePresident.
As per Article 66 of the Constitution of India, the Vice-President is elected by the members of the Electoral College consisting of the members of both the Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
For the ongoing vicepresidential election, the Electoral College consists of: 233 elected and 12 nominated members of the Rajya Sabha and 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha.
The Electoral College comprises a total of 788 members of both the Houses of Parliament. Since, all the electors are members of both the Houses of Parliament, the value of vote of each Member of Parliament would be the same i.e.1 (one).
The BJP has lost three seats in the last round of biennial polls and its strength has declined to 92 MPs in the Upper House on July 1. In the Lower House, where it enjoys a sweeping majority, the BJP has bagged both the seats in the by-election in Uttar Pradesh, taking its Lok Sabha tally to 303.
Together, the BJP has 395 MPs, or votes, in the vicepresidential election, more than enough to sail through without the help of nominated members of other political parties.
Despite an assured victory, the BJP wants to pick up some one who has experience of parliamentary practices and procedures and the political acumen to bail out the party in times of crisis without appearing to be blatantly partisan.
This is because the Vice-President’s role as the presiding officer of the Upper House of Parliament has acquired distinct political overtones in conduct of the parliamentary proceedings in recent years.
In today’s Parliament, the Upper House has witnessed repeated disruptions and disorderly scenes. As the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Vice-President has to decide many tricky issues on the conduct of the House as well as questions related to the anti-defection law and disciplinary action against the unruly members of the House.