Venkaiah Naidu quits BJP, says he is above any party after Vice President nomination

M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday quit the government and his party, calling it a “painful” task. “Now I do not belong to any party,” said the veteran politician after filing his nomination for the August 5 poll.

Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu (born 1 July 1949) is an Indian politician and the National Democratic Alliance candidate for the post of Vice President of India (July 2017). He served as the Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting in the Modi ministry.

A prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Part (BJP), he has also served as its national president from 2002 to 2004. Earlier, he was the Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a centre-right coalition of political parties in India. At the time of its formation in 1998, it was led by the BJP and had thirteen constituent parties. Its honorary chairman is former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Naidu is the vice presidential candidate of the BJP-led ruling coalition. The Election Commission on Thursday announced that polls for the post of Vice President will be held on August 5.

According to the schedule announced by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, the notification for the vice-presidential polls will be issued on July 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top ministers and allies were by Mr Naidu as he completed the formalities for joining the vice presidential contest.

But the government estimates that its candidate has the votes of around 550 MPs in the electoral college of 787 MPs, and can easily win. Mr Naidu said there was “no need” for him to campaign as MPs know him too well.

In another tweet, Mr Naidu said “I deem it as an honour to be nominated as the BJP and NDA’s candidate for the post of Vice President of our country.”

In preparation for his new role, 68-year-old Mr Naidu quit his ministries. Smriti Irani will take additional charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Narendra Tomar will take charge of Urban Development.

“Needless to say, I will miss my party a lot, but I look forward to my new responsibilities, should I be elected the Vice President,” Mr Naidu told reporters after filing his nomination papers.

“Mr Naidu as a candidate falls in neatly with the party’s big plans for expanding its base in the south, especially Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The party also sees clear advantages in the seasoned MP, as Vice President, running the Rajya Sabha, the house where the government is in a minority,” a report in NDTV said.

Mr Naidu’s nomination marks the return of a politician to the post, which ranks above the prime minister. Hamid Ansari, who served two terms as Vice President, was a diplomat.

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