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VP polls tomorrow; Ansari has edge over Jaswant Singh

New Delhi: As many as 787 members of parliament will vote on Tuesday to elect India's 14th vice president. In the poll, UPA nominee and incumbent Hamid Ansari appears to have a clear edge over his rival Jaswant Singh, backed by the opposition NDA, according to sources.

The result will be out Tuesday evening.

The sources claimed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee has the support of 500 out of the total 787 members in both houses of parliament, who constitute the electoral college for the vice presidential election.

Hamid Ansari. PTI

The Lok Sabha has a total strength of 545 members, including speaker. It has two vacancies — Pranab Mukherjee resigned after being elected the 13th president of India and Vijay Bahuguna resigned to be co-opted as council member after he was made chief minister of Uttarakhand. A Bharatiya Janata Party member from Bellary, Karnataka, J Shanta, facing a court case, would not be able to vote. The Rajya Sabha has 245 members.

UPA constituents like the Nationalist Congress Party, the DMK, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the National Conference are backing Ansari but the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is yet to clarify her stand.

Parties supporting the UPA from outside like the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party are also backing Ansari.

The Janata Dal (Secular) has also pledged support to Ansari, who has been a career diplomat and scholar.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist, which had supported Ansari in 2007, is backing him for a second term but the Revolutionary Socialist Party will abstain from voting.

National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Jaswant Singh is supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allies like the Akali Dal, Janata Dal (United) and the Shiv Sena.

The Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK, which had supported opposition nominee P.A. Sangma in the presidential poll, are yet to declare their support to Singh.

A former army man, Singh is a veteran BJP leader and has headed the key foreign and finance ministries during the 1998-2004 NDA rule.

IANS

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