Though the outcome of the vice-presidential contest was a foregone conclusion, Dhankhar’s victory was rich in symbolism as it signalled the continued dominance of PM Narendra Modi-led BJP, with all key constitutional posts – President, VP (who is also ex-officio Rajya Sabha chairman) and Lok Sabha Speaker – held by the party. It also dealt a body blow to the anti-BJP camp, which had pitched the VP polls as a battle of ideologies between “Constitution keepers and those who undermine it”.
The anti-BJP whose claim to a grand opposition unity came apart in the run-up to the contest when Mamata Banerjee’s TMC broke ranks and decided to abstain from voting in the vice-presidential election.
Jagdeep Dhankar, 71, swept the polls with 72.8% of the 725 valid votes cast during the VP polls, making him the first BJP nominee for the post to not have started his political journey in the Sangh Parivar and having drifted into the saffron camp after a stint in the Lok Dal and then Congress.
Polling and counting for the polls was held in Lok Sabha. Of the 780 possible electoral college votes, 725 MPs, accounting for 92.9% votes, exercised their franchise. Lok Sabha returning officer Utpal Kumar Singh said 15 votes were invalidated .
Having cornered nearly 73% votes, Dhankar bettered Naidu’s 2017 performance by 2%. His winning margin of 346 votes was the highest in the last six vice-presidential polls since 1997. However, the record of the highest margin still remains with KR Narayanan, who got 700 of the 701 votes cast in 1992 against independent candidate Kaka Joginder Singh, alias ‘Dharti Pakad’.
Dhankar’s victory came on the back of support from the NDA parties, which account for 441 MPs, five nominated members and non-NDA parties, including BJD, YSR Congress, BSP, TDP, Akali Dal and the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena, which together accounted for a total of 81 MPs.
Alva had to settle for a significantly lower tally of 182, accounting for a paltry 25.1% of the valid votes cast. The opposition camp, incidentally, was expecting over 200 votes for Alva with support from 20 parties, including Congress, DMK, TRS, AAP, NCP, CPM, CPI, IUML, NC, SP, JMM, Kerala Congress, AIMIM, AIUDF, RSP, VCK, MDMK, RJD and RLD.
While the opposition managers had no illusion about the results of this lopsided contest, Alva’s candidature was a serious posturing to convey their message they would not stop resisting NDA’s alleged muscle power and politics of intimidation . Their hopes were buoyed by Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction and JMM coming back – leading to the reinforcement of the expectation that the VP polls would signal deeper solidarity that would help convert some fence-sitters in the run-up to the 2024 polls.
Factionalism within Sena also dented the opposition’s numbers, with 15 of its 22 MPs aligned with the Eknath Shinde camp likely to have sided with Dhankhar. Among those who didn’t cast their votes included BJP’s Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dhotre and Congress MPs Randeep Surjewala and Dhiraj Sahu.
Modi, Shah hail ‘kisan putra’ Dhankhar’s election
PM Narendra Modi hailed the election of Jagdeep Dhankhar as vice president as a proud moment for India to have a “kisan putra” in the high constitutional post at a time when the country is poised to celebrate 75 years of Independence. President Droupadi Murmu, home minister Amit Shah and leaders from across the political spectrum congratulated Dhankhar on his victory.
Congratulations to Jagdeep Dhankhar on being elected the Vice President of India. The nation will benefit from your… https://t.co/wWlrYMIaAd
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) 1659797539000
Modi, who was the first to cast vote on Saturday, called on Dhankhar soon after the results were announced. “Congratulations to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar ji on being elected India’s vice- president with resounding support across party lines. I’m confident he will be an outstanding VP. Our nation will gain tremendously from his intellect and wisdom,” he said. “At a time when India marks Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, we are proud to be having a kisan putra VP who has excellent legal knowledge and intellectual prowess.”
Congratulations to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar Ji on being elected India’s Vice President with resounding support across… https://t.co/R9rUWIoNvq
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1659801144000
“Congratulations to Jagdeep Dhankhar on being elected the VP. The nation will benefit from your long and rich experience of public life. My best wishes for a productive and successful tenure,” President Droupadi Murmu said. Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu also spoke to Dhankhar over the phone and congratulated him.
It is a matter of joy for the entire nation that the farmer’s son Shri @jdhankhar1 ji has been elected as the Vice President of India.… https://t.co/plvnprkyKZ
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 1659796474000
Shah said, “Congratulations to Kisan Putra Jagdeep Dhankhar ji on being elected as the VP, which is a matter of joy for the country. He has been continuously associated with the common man in his long public life. The Upper House will benefit from his close understanding and experience of ground level issues.” He said he was confident that as VP and chairman of Rajya Sabha, Dhankhar will prove to be the true guardian of Constitution.
Congratulations to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar ji on being elected as the 14th Vice-President of India.Thank you to Smt… https://t.co/IcL9RrSJFH
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1659797805000
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party MP Rahul Gandhi and some opposition leaders congratulated Dhankhar. “Congratulations to Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar ji on being elected as the 14th VP of India… Thank you to Smt @alva_margaret ji for representing the spirit of the joint opposition with grace and dignity,” Rahul tweeted.