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Cong not keen on Ansari as VP

Tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo and the corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily have emerged front-runners for the post of vice president of India. Though names of the power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, two governors Margret Alva and Shivraj Patil, and the senior congress leaders Saifuddin Soz and Mohsina Kidwai are also being mentioned for the post.

Deo is a tribal, who commands respect not only within the Congress but also amongst the entire political spectrum. The same goes for Moily, who hails from Karnataka and has a backward class background. Moily’s name had figured even in 2007 for the post. But Hamid Ansari was brought in at the last minute as the Left parties insisted on his name.

It is almost certain that Ansari will not be re-nominated for the post. There is a likelihood that a member of the minority community may not figure due to other political compulsions. It is argued that with P A Sangma flaunting his tribal card in presidential campaign, Deo’s candidature may puncture it. Deo is a five-time Lok Sabha MP is understood to have had a brief meeting with Sonia Gandhi recently.

But no one is sure what Gandhi would do. Highly placed sources in the Congress say that she will discuss the issue with senior leaders once the Election Commission issues a formal notification for the election.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is in a far more comfortable position in the vice presidential poll that it is in the presidential race, as it has clear majority in the electoral college comprising of 790 MPs of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The UPA’s combined strength in both houses touches 400 mark and with the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and other non-National Democratice Alliance parties supporting it, its nominee will get more than 460 votes. The Congress managers are of the firm view that even the Trinamool Congress will remain part of the UPA in the presidential and the vice-presidential elections irrespective of the political differences.

The vice-presidential election is due on 7 August. The last date of nomination has been fixed for 20 July.


SHINDE LEADS THE COMPETITION IN TWO RACES

After the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) decided to make Pranab Mukherjee its presidential candidate, the corridors of power have been abuzz with speculations over Mukherjee's successor as the leader of the house in the Lok Sabha. The highly placed sources in the Congress say that Sushil Kumar Shinde has emerged as the likely choice of the party for the post. However, his name is also being considered by the UPA for the post of vice president.

Shinde is perceived to be close to 10, Janpath, and shares a good rapport with leaders across political parties. These are being seen as two of his best attributes for the post. However, the recent investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Adarsh society scam may prove to be his Achilles' heel. But he hopes to counter this drawback by his proximity with the Congress top leadership. The Congress has reportedly given a clear chit to him on the issue, saying that there were no specific charges against Shinde.

Earlier, the names of the home minister P Chidambaram, the urban development minister Kamal Nath and the human resource development minister Kapil Sibal were also doing the rounds for this post. The front-runner, though, remains Shinde.
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