Venkaiah Naidu is NDA’s vice-presidential nominee: Move to help BJP gain stronghold in south India…

M Venkaiah Naidu is most likely to be the next vice-president of India. Though the contest is between him as the ruling NDA candidate and the Congress-led 18 Opposition parties’ candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the outcome of the 5 August polls is probably a foregone conclusion.
This time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah did not spring any last minute surprise. Even the media got speculations on Naidu’s nomination right. His nomination was in sync with what was being discussed in the power corridors — that the ruling BJP wants a leader from south India for the vice-president’s post.
The party is trying hard to make inroads in regions beyond Karnataka. Naidu, one of the senior most BJP leader and the Union minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, is from Andhra Pradesh and had been based in Hyderabad. His elevation can emotionally appeal to people in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In fact, with Naidu’s nomination, BJP has got the regional balance right — presidential nominee from north India and vice-president from south.
Naidu’s elevation as the vice-presidential nominee is the story of a political leader who has the strength and energy to mould himself as per the developing situation.
Back in 2002, Naidu succeeded K Jana Krishnamurthy as the BJP president after resigning from the post of rural development minister. He emerged as a leader of national importance in a party which was largely considered to be a north Indian party. As the party president, he is credited for bringing synergy between the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and the BJP as an organisation. He was especially close to LK Advani.
Famous for his one-liners, in 2003, Naidu came up with the loh purush (iron man) and vikas purush (development man) slogan for Advani and Vajpayee respectively. Not taking kindly to the remark, Vajpayee at a 7 Race Course Road function had said, “Na tired na retired, Advani ji netritva mein vijay ki ore prasthan (neither tired nor retired, proceed to victory path with Advani).” It took some time for the party to come out of the shadows the contentious remark.
Ahead of 2004 parliamentary election, Naidu came out with ‘Mission 300 — Ek haath me BJP ka jhanda doosre hath me NDA ka agenda’. The BJP lost the election, and Naidu was removed from the post of party president with Advani succeeding him. After Advani’s downfall in 2005 over his controversial remarks on Mohammad Ali Jinnah, many thought it was the end of the road for Naidu.

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