The Vice-President of India holds the second highest constitutional office after the President. The suffix ‘Vice’ refers to the fact that in case the Presidential post is vacant due to death, absence, removal, illness or otherwise, the Vice-President will take up the post of the President. In that case, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will take up the role of chairman of the Rajya Sabha. However, the Vice-President is unlike the President in most other duties performed in the Parliament, despite some similarities between the eligibility. Let’s look at them one by one.
First, let’s look at the similarities between President and Vice-President. The Vice-President of India should be a citizen of India, should be of a minimum of 35 years of age, and should be qualified for a member of the Rajya Sabha. Also, in the election contest for the posts of both President and Vice-President, only two candidates are chosen, one by the ruling party, and one by the opposition, and the one with a simple majority of votes or points wins. The tenure of President and Vice-President are both 5 years, after which he/she can be re-elected. Now, let’s look at the dissimilarities, which are mostly in terms of roles and duties.
Firstly, the Vice-President is not a part of the Parliament, unlike the President who is considered a part of the Parliament besides the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Vice-President is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who performs a similar role as the Speaker in Lok Sabha. The Vice President presides over the Rajya Sabha sessions and takes care of the day-to-day matters of the Upper House. However, unlike the speaker the Vice-President is not a part of the Rajya Sabha. However, the Deputy Chairman is a part of the Rajya Sabha.
The Vice President of India do not exercise powers which the President can, like emergency power, or dissolve the Lok Sabha, or pass a bill in the Parliament. However, the Vice-President may move to suspend a member of the Rajya Sabha if he/she behaves rudely, disrupts the proceedings of the Parliament, or otherwise. The vice president also acts as the chancellor of the central universities of India.
In the election of the Vice-President of India, all Members of the Parliament, including the Prime Minister, can cast their vote. The state assemblies do not participate in this election, but the nominated members can participate here, unlike the election of the President. The President, despite being a part of the Parliament, remains neutral and does not cast any vote. The duty of vote count goes to the Election Commission. Usually the ballot is a secret one, similar to election of the President, and there are instances of cross-voting, between the ruling party and the opposition.
Currently, Jagdeep Dhankar, from the ruling party side and Margaret Alva, from the opposition side, contested for the election of the Vice-President of India. Jagdeep Dhankar, who was previously the Governor of West Bengal, won the election, thus becoming the next Vice-President of India. Jagdeep Dhankar won by a huge margin, with casting of more than 500 votes in his favour out of 725. He will take oath as the Vice-President on 11th August, a day after the term of the previous Vice-President, M. Venkaiah Naidu, ends.
Written by – Himadri Paul