Jagdeep Dhankhar, the BJP-led NDA’s candidate for Vice-President, filed his nomination papers today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was with him, as were Cabinet Ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, and BJP President JP Nadda.
Against Mr Dhankhar, 71, a former West Bengal governor who had a long innings with the BJP in Rajasthan, the Opposition has fielded veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva, 77, in the polls scheduled for August 6. The last date for nominations is tomorrow.
The term of the current Vice-President, M Venkaiah Naidu, ends on August 10. Mr Naidu, a former BJP president and union minister, had won comfortably in 2017.
PM Modi had cited Jagdeep Dhankhar’s farming background while announcing his name.
Mr Dhankhar resigned as governor yesterday to run for Vice-President, who is also the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha by default.
Earlier in the day, Mr Dhankhar met MPs from different parties supporting his bid. There, too, PM Modi and other senior BJP leaders were present, besides MPs from the Biju Janata Dal and Lok Jankshakti Party, among others.
Born in a Jat family in 1951 at Kithana village in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, Mr Dhankhar was a lawyer at the Supreme Court before entering politics in 1990.
He was associated with former deputy PM Devi Lal, a Jat farmer leader from Haryana. In the short-lived, Congress-supported government of Chandra Shekhar, Mr Dhankhar was a minister. He joined the Congress when PV Narasimha Rao became PM. But, as Ashok Gehlot rose to the top of the party in Rajasthan, Mr Dhankhar shifted to the BJP.
Three years ago, he was appointed Governor of West Bengal, where he had frequent run-ins with the Mamata Banerjee-led government. He was accused by Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress of doing the bidding of the BJP-led central government.