Jagdeep Dhankar

New Delhi, Aug 06: Jagdeep Dhankar, the candidate of the Centre-ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has been declared the winner of the Vice Presidential elections held on August 6.

“NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar won by 346 votes as he bagged 528 of the total 725 votes that were cast. While 15 were termed invalid, Opposition candidate Margret Alva received 182 votes in the election,” Lok Sabha General-Secretary Utpal K Singh, who was the returning officer for the poll, told reporters.

The total number of eligible voters, comprising the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs, was 780. With 725 votes being cast, the total voter turnout was 92.94 percent, the officer added.

Dhankar, 71, will be administered the oath to the office on August 11, a day after the tenure of incumbent Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is scheduled to expire.

Dhankar, who was serving as the governor of West Bengal till his nomination was announced last month, faced a challenge from ex-Union minister and former five-time Congress MP, Margaret Alva. Her candidature was backed by a majority of the Opposition parties.

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Dhankar held the number’s edge moving into the polls, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA has over 425 lawmakers in its camp, which is more than half out of the total 788 votes that were to be cast. With parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Shiv Sena, and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) extending support to Dhankar, the numbers in his favor were expected to cross the 500-mark.

On the basis of the electoral strength of the parties that had backed Alva, the 80-year-old was expected to receive the votes of around 208 MPs.

Dhankar’s ascent as India’s V-P

Dhankar was born on May 18, 1951, in an agrarian household in a remote village located in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district. He completed his early school education at Sainik School, Chittorgarh, and went on to pursue law at the University of Rajasthan.

Before entering public life, Dhankar was a successful lawyer, having practiced in both the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court of India.

Dhankhar entered public life for the first time after being elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) from Jhunjhunu in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. Subsequently, he also served as a Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in 1990. In 1993, he was elected to the Rajasthan assembly from the Kishangarh constituency in Ajmer district.

In July 2019, he was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal, where he has been often involved in a war of words with the Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee.

Dhankar, as the next V-P, would be succeeding Venkaiah Naidu, a veteran leader of the BJP, who was elected to the top post in 2017.

Dhankar’s victory also comes less than a month after NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu swept the Presidential polls with a landslide mandate.