Springing a surprise, the BJP announced Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu as its nominee for Vice President, further proof that the party plans to further expand south-wards.
It is not clear how enthusiastic Naidu, 68, is for the new assignment, but India is very likely to have dyed-in-the-wool RSS men as president and vice president.
Naidu's nomination is likely to again bring into focus Arun Shourie's now-famous quip about the Union Minister's intellectual capacities. In his address to a gathering at the Press Club of India in support of NDTV and against alleged needling of the TV channel for running a crusade against the government, Shourie had said Naidu was incapable of writing three paragraphs cogently.
Shourie, known for his considerable intellectual prowess, wondered why newspapers publish Naidu's articles when editors were well aware he cannot write. Now, Naidu will be pitched against opposition candidate, former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi, again an intellectual power house.
A few weeks earlier, Naidu, when asked about his possible nomination, had said he did not want to be Rashtrapati or Uprashtrapati. "I am happy being Usha's pati," he had said. Usha is the name of the Union Minister's wife. The two have been married for 47 years now.
The vice presidential election is scheduled for August 5.
Naidu is a fourth term Rajya Sabha MP, and this will help him in running the upper House, a major duty of any veep.
Naidu became a Rajya Sabha MP first in April 1998, and was then re-elected to the upper house in 2004, 2010 and 2016. He also headed the BJP for a few months in 2002, and then again in 2004.
He is a member of BJP's Parliamentary Board and Central Election Committee, and acted as the party's spokesperson all too often.