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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 113

Former diplomat Hamid Ansari tipped to be the new Vice President of India

By M Rama Rao in New Delhi

New Delhi, 21 July ( ): Hamid Ansari, a former diplomat and chairman, Minorities Commission of India is tipped to be the Vice President of India in what is going to be a three-cornered contest. Ansari name was announced Friday by the Congress led the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties which support the Manmohan government from out side. The 'fractured' Third Front fielded Samajwadi party's Rashid Masood in the Vice presidential election. The BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is mulling the options of fielding its own candidate.

AIADMK supreme Jayalalithaa and MDMK chief Vaiko were conspicuous by their absence as other Front leaders led by Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Mulayam Singh Yadav showed up for 'a group photo' to mark Mr. Masood filing his papers before the Returning Officer at the Parliament House.

MPs of AIADMK and MDMK, however, figure among those who had proposed and seconded the Masood nomination.

UPA-Left choice was announced by the alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the end of hectic consultations amongst the allies during the day. She also spoke to BSP chief Mayawati on phone and brought her into the consultation loop as she flew into the city for a meeting with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on central aid for Uttar Pradesh. This tele-consultation is yet another manifestation of Mayawati's importance in the UPA scheme.

The selection process featured several names - historian Irfan Habib, Jamia VC Mushirul Hasan, Haryana governor A. K Kidwai, noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan, social worker, Swami Agnivesh and DMK leader M Karunanidhi's personal choice – his old friend Surjit Singh Barnala, presently governor Tamil Nadu. But the Left, whose turn it was now to select the nominee, preferred the non-controversial, low profile diplomat, who also enjoys good equation with the senior Congress leadership.

"All of us have come to unanimous understanding that Mohammed Hamid Ansari would be our candidate," Sonia Gandhi said in her statement issued after the UPA-Left coordination meeting in Delhi. She also spoke highly of the 'excellent record' of Ansari in many capacities including as civil servant and diplomat, as an academic and as head of the Minorities Commission.

Third Front Show: The Front selected Masood with an eye on UP politics and the expectation that he will be acceptable to the Left and BSP. The calculation has back fired as the Left ditched Mulayam Singh for the second time – first time was in the presidential election; the Left ignored Mulayam and did not even sound him of its plans.

TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu used the occasion to put up a brave face on the Third Front. He played down the 'split' in the Front and the spat between the SP and the CPI.

Do you feel embarrassed over the development, Naidu was asked.

He gave a wry smile and said: "It is coalition era. There are some compulsions among political parties. We are not finding anything (wrong) in that (AIADMK voting for Shekhawat)... Our intention is very clear. We want to give an alternative ..."

He did not however elaborate what compulsions made Jayalalithaa make a U-turn in the presidential election since she herself had announced the Front decision to abstain from voting.

SP leader Amar Singh told reporters, "We are solid as rock", and said the Front was committed to providing an anti-BJP, anti-Congress secular alternative. He attributed the absence of Jayalalithaa to her ill-health. "She is unwell. AIADMK is very much represented by K Malaisamy (Rajya Sabha member)".

And he explained away the 'voting' by AIADMK, MDMK and some SP and TDP members in the Presidential election to ' confusion' created by the Election Commission orders and senior BJP leader L K Advani call for conscience vote as also the fear that by abstaining they might lose their membership.

The SP leader snubbed CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan for saying that the Third Front would not remain 'for the simple reason that (AIADMK supremo) Jayalalithaa would have gone to that side (the BJP)'.

'People in company of Congress should not comment on UNPA', Amar Singh said while Mulayam Singh Yadav dismissed Bardan remark as 'an unwarranted interference'.

-Asian Tribune -

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