Polling to elect the 14th Vice President of India got underway here on Saturday with numbers clearly stacked in the favour of ruling NDA candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to cast his vote as the polling began at 10 am and will get over by 5 pm. The counting of votes will start at 7 pm and the results will be announced in the evening.
If elected, Naidu will become the second person with RSS background to occupy the second most important constitutional post.
Naidu is pitted against opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi in the election that will take place in Parliament House with the electoral college comprising 790 members of both the houses.
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 support of some political parties from the south.
The Lok Sabha currently has 543 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. The BJP leaders are hopeful of crossing the mark of 500.
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.
Gandhi is unlikely to cross the half-way mark.
Hamid Ansari has been the Vice President and ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha since August 11, 2007. He won a second term on August 11, 2012. His current term ends on August 10.
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was the first from RSS background to occupy the post of Vice President. He served as Vice President of India and ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha from 2002-2007.
(With inputs from agencies)