Venkaiah Naidu, Former BJP Chief, Elected India's Vice President

  • Defeats opposition nominee Gandhi, a former governor
  • Naidu will also be chairman of upper house of parliament

M. Venkaiah Naidu, a former federal cabinet minister, was elected as India’s vice president, giving the ruling coalition control of the South Asian nation’s two highest constitutional posts.

Naidu, 68, defeated the main opposition grouping’s nominee, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former governor of West Bengal, by a margin of 272 votes in a poll on Saturday in New Delhi, Shumsher K. Sheriff, secretary general of the upper house of parliament and also the returning officer of the poll, told reporters in New Delhi. On July 20, Ram Nath Kovind, a former governor and nominee of ruling coalition, was elected president, the highest post.

VenKaiah Naidu

Photographer: Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Naidu, a former president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, is known for his brilliant oratorial skills. The former member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological wing of the BJP, was urban development minister in Modi government. He will succeed Mohammad Hamid Ansari to the country’s second-highest office next week.

The vice president takes over in the event of the death, resignation or removal of the president and is also chairman of the upper house of parliament, or Rajya Sabha. The president is the supreme commander of India’s armed forces and oversees creation of a government in case of a hung parliament.

The electoral college for the vice president consists of 790 members from both houses of parliament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administation has a majority in the lower house but trails in 245-member upper house. The ruling BJP recently became the single largest party in the upper house and is set to add a few more to its tally next year, boosting its strength to push through key legislation.

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