MPs queued up outside Parliament House on Saturday to elect the country's next Vice President, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being the first to cast his vote.
The voting began at 10 a.m and the electoral college comprising 790 members of both Houses of Parliament will vote till 5 p.m. The counting of votes will be done in the evening. NDA candidate M Venkaiah Naidu is contesting against Opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
The ruling combine made last minute arrangements to muster maximum support, with Modi giving a pep talk to MPs, including those from parties outside the NDA, at a dinner hosted by him on Friday. In an effective electoral college of 787 members, Naidu seems to be in a comfortable position as the NDA has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and has the support of some political parties from the south. The Lok Sabha currently has 545 members and the Rajya Sabha 244. The Lok Sabha has two vacancies, while the Rajya Sabha has one vacancy. According to BJP officials, apart from the NDA's 81 Rajya Sabha members and 338 Lok Sabha members, members of both Houses -- of the AIADMK (50), YSR Congress (10) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (14) will also vote in favour of Naidu. With around support of 493 members, Naidu is all set to cross the magic figure of 394. However, BJP leaders are hopeful of crossing the 500 mark.
Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former West Bengal Governor and a diplomat, has support of the Congress, the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and National Conference. Janata Dal-United, which is now a part of NDA, had announced support for Gandhi and is likely to vote in his favour.