Margaret Alva vs Jagdeep Dhankhar: Lawyers, Ex-Governors, Rivals for VP Post
Both candidates in the fray of vice presidential election are lawyers and have been Union ministers and governors.
The Opposition parties have fielded former Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva as their joint candidate for the post of vice president. The announcement came a day after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President JP Nadda announced West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as the candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Both the candidates in the fray for the vice presidential election are lawyers, and have been Union ministers and governors. Here's a look at the career graphs of Alva and Dhankhar.
Margaret Alva: Born in Karnataka, Former Union Minister, and Governor of 4 States
Born in Mangaluru in Karnataka, Margaret Alva first entered Rajya Sabha at the age of 32 in 1974. She has been elected to Rajya Sabha four times and won a Lok Sabha election in 1999. She was Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in Rajiv Gandhi's government in 1984 and later held the charge of Youth Affairs and Sports in the ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). She has also served as the minister-in-charge of Women and Child Development.
Further, she has been governor of four states, namely Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand. Alva is known as a fierce orator. In 2008, she had accused the Congress high command of selling tickets in the Karnataka Assembly election after which she was removed from the post of party general secretary.
Jagdeep Dhankhar: Born in Rajasthan, Governor of Bengal, and Former Union Minister
Born in Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, Jagdeep Dhankhar is known as an ace lawyer. He had practised in Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court. In 1989, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Jhunjhunu on a Janata Dal ticket. He was rewarded with a ministerial portfolio in 1990.
He represented the Kishangarh Assembly constituency in Ajmer district from 1993 to 1998 and later joined Congress. After being defeated in the Lok Sabha election, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003. He was made governor of West Bengal in 2019.
A Move to Placate Jats and Other Farming Communities
Dhankhar comes from the Jat community. After the farmers’ agitation, the BJP feared the wrath of farming communities, particularly Jats in western Uttar Pradesh during the Assembly election. Though the party had not been hit hard, it seems that they still intend to placate the powerful and influential farming community.
Jats influence election results in both Haryana and Rajasthan. The BJP may be aiming to placate the Jats through Dhankhar’s elevation. Nadda repeatedly addressed him as 'kisan putra' while announcing his candidature, clearly hinting at the message the BJP wanted to deliver to the Jats and other farming communities. They expect to repair the dent done by the farmer agitation in 2021 in northern states.
Moreover, the BJP also needed someone in the Rajya Sabha who is well versed with the law and legal procedures. Dhankhar has been a successful lawyer in the Supreme Court and his oratory skills were evident during his tenure as governor of West Bengal, where he targeted the state CM Mamata Banerjee on a regular basis. The way he questioned Banerjee in West Bengal also seems to have added to his brownie points, resulting in the reward of the chairmanship of the upper house in the Parliament.
Is Alva a Master Stroke of Opposition?
Margaret Alva had been vociferous against the anti-conversion bill by the BJP government in Karnataka. The BJP has fielded an Adivasi woman as the candidate for the presidential election; the Opposition, on the other hand, has now tried to play the master stroke by fielding Alva in the election for vice president. Till now, no woman has held the post of vice president of India.
Alva is a Christian and Congress may be hoping to cash in on her candidature as vice president for the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka. Congress may be eyeing to attract Muslims and other minorities to the party by fielding her. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar announced her name as the joint candidate of 17 Opposition parties.
Alva and Dhankhar both started their careers as lawyers. Alva leads in political experience in comparison to Dhankhar as she has been governor of four states, and had a long stint as a Union minister. But who among the two will weigh in more, politically?
(Translated from Quint Hindi by Arvind Singh.)
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