PM surprises by selecting Naidu

PM surprises by selecting Naidu

PM surprises by selecting Naidu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has again sprung a surprise by picking Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu as candidate for the vice president’s election next month. As was done in the case of selection of Ram Nath Kovind as the Presidential candidate, Modi kept his name under wraps till the last hour.

The prime minister made public his decision to field Naidu only at a meeting of the BJP parliamentary party — just a day before the last date for filing nomination for the vice presidential election. It was not exactly clear why Modi chose Naidu.

But most BJP leaders thought that, being the most prominent face from south, who had worked for the party’s organisation and growth, he was an inevitable choice. The BJP could not ignore south when it entertained ambitions in the region.

With his indifferent health, Naidu was also finding his ministerial work a bit too heavy. He was handling key portfolios of urban development as well as information and broadcasting. With pressure mounting from the Prime Minister’s Office for visible progress in key projects like smart cities, the workload of the urban development ministry had increased by leaps and bounds.

Late Sunday evening when his name came under intense speculation, 68-year-old Naidu sought to clarify by issuing a statement that he was not a “front-runner” and “it’s not appropriate to speculate and such speculation in respect of high Constitutional position is not advisable”.

Also his close associates said Naidu was not ready to leave active politics as yet, but would abide by the party’s “wishes”. But, by Monday morning, Naidu could not resist accepting greetings when he was mobbed by MPs and leaders in Parliament, congratulating him “in advance”.

Naidu is the only person in the BJP who resigned from the post of party president and later accepted the post of vice president under L K Advani after the 2004 poll debacle. In 2002, when the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was unhappy with Gujarat’s handling of riots, Naidu was among the top leaders who backed Modi’s continuation as chief minister.
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