Soz, Farooq vie for Vice-President post
UPA Mulls Valley Candidate For The Coveted Position
New Delhi, July 6: Will there be a Kashmir angle to the August 7 Vice-Presidential election? Signals emerging out of the ruling UPA camp suggest that the combine’s nominee for the post could be from the Valley. With eminent scholar and philosopher Dr Karan Singh having already missed the race for being the Presidential nominee, the chances of a person from the state entering the Vice-presidential poll arena have brightened.
The two names doing the rounds in this context are those of former Union Minister and JKPCC chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah who incidentally were colleagues in the National Conference before the former parted ways and joined the Congress after he went against his party’s diktat to vote for the BJP-led NDA government during a vote of no-confidence against the Vajpayee government. His vote had proved to be decisive that led to the fall of the NDA government in 1999.
Sources in the Congress though not ruling out the possibility of a second term for Vice-President Hamid Ansari, despite his earlier public stance that he would not run for the post a second time if not considered for the Presidential election, felt that the idea of a Kashmiri leader being elevated to the second highest office in the country for the first time is in the realm of strong possibility. The move can be considered if a decision is taken to field a Muslim candidate for the post and in that event Prof Soz could be a strong possibility, they added.
According to sources, UPA is keen to have a Muslim candidate that also from Kashmir as Vice-President to win back its dwindling support base among Muslim voters in 2014 parliamentary polls.
A powerful lobby in the Congress, according to sources, also want Prof Soz out of the state politics so that the decks are cleared for Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to make a smooth come-back to the state, if at any point in time, he intends to do so.
There are indications in the UPA circles that supporters of Dr Abdullah including some of his close relatives in Rajasthan have been lobbying for his candidature in the higher echelons of the Government and the Congress. They are arguing that given Dr Abdullah’s political stature at the national level and his background of belonging to a prominent political family of Kashmir, he would be most suited for the post.
The sources further pointed out that in the event of a decision to field a Kashmiri Muslim for the post, the Congress would prefer their own man Prof Soz over Dr Abdullah. This observation was made in the backdrop of the fact that Dr Abdullah has been known for his frequent flip-flops in pursuing his political agenda particularly at the national level.
The party insiders felt that there is strong case to back Prof Soz as the Congress has already committed itself to back Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister for a full period of six years. “Given the present track-record of the Congress-National Conference government and question mark on Abdullah senior’s credibility in the political circles, it is politically untenable to back him as the Vice-Presidential candidate,” they observed.
There is a strong feeling in the Congress that Prof Soz has better credentials to be acceptable even outside the UPA if it came to building consensus. Erudite and a man of few words, he is better placed to be the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, one of the important functions of the Vice-President, the sources felt.
Apart from giving the slot to a Muslim candidate, the UPA managers are also weighing the possibility of fielding either a Dalit or a member of the Christian Minority as the combine’s candidate. In the latter case, the name of former Chief Election Commissioner James Michael Lyngdoh is also being discussed. His name has gained currency as he has been perceived close to the 10-Janpath and was the author of Rahul Gandhi’s plan to hold elections for the NSUI and Youth Congress posts to strengthen inner party democracy.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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