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NDA makes Jaswant its vice prez nominee

NDA makes Jaswant its vice prez nominee
The senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh was nominated as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate on Monday for the vice-presidential election that will see a direct contest between him and incumbent Hamid Ansari.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led opposition coalition, which was split over the presidential poll with allies Janata Dal (United) and the Shiv Sena breaking ranks, unanimously named the 74-year-old Singh as its candidate.

As things stand, Ansari has a definite edge with the pledged support of at least 438 votes in an electoral college of 790 MPs, much above the required number of 396.

Singh, a former finance and external affairs minister, has the committed support of 186 votes in the electoral college, which comprises of 545 members of the Lok Sabha and 245 members of the Rajya Sabha.

The NDA decided to field Singh at a meeting which was attended by the JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who had earlier skipped such a meeting to decide the candidate for the president's post.

'Sharad Yadav's name had come up in the public domain as a possible candidate for vice president. Sushma Swaraj had talked to him day before yesterday and requested him to consider it. But, he said that he is engaged in active politics freely, and this post would hamper it,' L K Advani, the NDA working president, told reporters here. 'We have decided not to give [the UPA] a walkover... We have unanimously decided that Jaswant Singh would be the NDA candidate in the vice-presidential poll,' he said.

Ansari, who was named as the UPA candidate last week, is set to create history by becoming only the second Indian after S Radhakrishnan to get two consecutive terms as vice president.

Refusing to concede that he was fighting a losing battle, Singh said, 'I don't reject the importance of numbers... [But] wait and watch... It is not simply a game of arithmetic.'

Advani said that the NDA was opposing Ansari for his 'conduct' in the Rajya Sabha during the Lokpal Bill debate when he had abruptly adjourned the house. The BJP leader said he had conveyed this to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when the latter called him to seek support for Ansari. 'I told him that we have our reservations and disinclination [towards Ansari's candidature],' Advani said.

The NDA also said that its reservations on Ansari's candidature are due to the manner in which the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
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