India Elects New Vice President, Jagdeep Dhankar

The Election Commission of India declared Jagdeep Dhankar, former governor of West Bengal, as the country’s 14th Vice President on Saturday, August 6th.  He is expected to take oath on Aug. 11, 2022.

Backed by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) lead National Democratic Alliance(NDA), Dhankar defeated his opponent Marget Alva, by an overwhelming majority to succeed incumbent M Venkaiah Naidu, whose tenure ends on Aug.10. He secured 528 votes out of the 710 valid votes in the Vice-Presidential election held in Parliament on Saturday.

The electoral college for the vice president consists of votes from both houses of parliament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition had a comfortable majority making Dhankhar’s election a foregone conclusion.

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.

On July 21, Droupadi Murmu was elected as president of India, becoming the first tribal politician to occupy the top constitutional post in the world’s largest democracy. The vice-presidential post in India assumes significance as he chairs the proceedings of the upper house or Rajya Sabha.

Murmu congratulated Dhankhar on being elected the vice president of India.“The nation will benefit from your long and rich experience of public life. My best wishes for a productive and successful tenure,” she wrote on Twitter.

Analysts say that Dhankar was nominated for the second highest constitutional post as he belongs to a family of farmers and represents the Jat community. The community had participated in large numbers in the year-long farmers’ protests around the national capital New Delhi against new agriculture reform laws.

Jagdeep Dhankhar, a Jat, was born in 1951 into a farmer’s family in Kithana, a small village in Rajasthan. Dhankhar started as a lawyer and has practised in the Supreme Court and the Rajasthan High Court. He was designated a senior advocate in 1990, a year after he entered active politics. He was closely associated with former deputy prime minister of India Chaudhary Devi Lal and followed his mentor when the latter walked out of the VP Singh government and became a union minister in 1990 in the minority government led by Chandra Shekhar. Dhankar entered politics in the mid 1980s. In 1989 he contested, and won, Lok Sabha elections from Jhunjhuna as a Janata Dal candidate.

He joined the Congress when PV Narasimha Rao became the prime minister. But with the rise of Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, he changed ships to the BJP. Dhankhar was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal in July 2019. During his tenure, he had regular run-ins with chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee on the other hand sought his removal from the governor’s post, accusing him of corruption and creating governance-related hurdles for the Trinamool Congress.

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