Indian right-wing leader Naidu elected vice-president

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Venkaiah Naidu waves as he arrives at the parliament house to file nomination papers for the vice president election in New Delhi, on July 18, 2017.

:: India’s lawmakers on Saturday elected a veteran leader from the ruling right-wing party as the country’s next vice-president, boosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political standing.

Venkaiah Naidu, 68, secured 516 parliamentary votes to pip rival Gopalkrishna Gandhi — the 72-year-old grandson of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi — who received 244 votes, according to polling officials.

Naidu, considered close to Modi, held the post of a federal minister before being nominated as vice president.

The vice president presides over the upper house of parliament and can take temporary charge of the largely ceremonial presidency in the event that the incumbent dies, resigns or is impeached.

Modi congratulated Naidu in a tweet and said, “I’m confident (he) will serve the nation as a diligent & dedicated Vice President, committed to the goal of nation building.”

The BJP rules 17 of India’s 29 states either directly or in alliance with regional parties.

Naidu’s victory means the top three constitutional offices are now held by BJP leaders following the election of the party’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind as president earlier this month.

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