Vice President congratulates the Vice President-elect, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu

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Venkaiah Naidu was on Saturday elected as the country's next Vice President, defeating opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi - 516 votes to 244.

He defeated Opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi by a huge margin of 272 votes in a straight contest. Of the 771 votes polled, 11 were found to be invalid.

"Venkaiah ji is dedicated to the poor and knows democratic principles well". The party had to introduce a non-political figure. He is a "firm believer in the principle of co-operative federalism", a principle that would guide him if elected Chairperson of the the Rajya Sabha. The party went past the Congress's tally of 57 after the election of Sampathiya Uikey from Madhya Pradesh.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has extended best wishes to the Vice President elect, Mr Venkaiah Naidu. It was his tactical mind and national image that got him the National President position of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2002. Naidu thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other party leaders for their support. He was minister for Information and Broadcasting and Housing and Urban Affairs in the Modi government and earlier held the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio. Naidu was an ABVP activist during the Emergency and was arrested and jailed. Then again, he was accused of disrupting Sanjay Gandhi's meeting and was jailed again.

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Naidu said he was honoured to become the Vice President of the nation. He has also represented Rajasthan in the Upper House before being nominated for the prestigious post of Vice-President by the NDA. He has friends across political parties.

The vice-president's principal role is that of chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Venkaiah is quick to respond to criticism from the opposition. The Lok Sabha now has 545 members and the Rajya Sabha 244. The 68-year-old politician had started his journey as a young party worker who would put up posters of political stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.

Born in a farmer's family in Chavatapalem, Andra Pradesh in 1949, Naidu is a graduate in law. It also set him on a tedious journey - from an RSS activist to a ABVP member - which propelled him into the spotlight after the Jan Andhra Movement in 1972. "Still, I became the president of the party", he pointed out recently in Mumbai.