New Delhi: Hamid Ansari will be the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate in the Vice Presidential elections for second term, Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced in New Delhi on Saturday.
"Ansari will shortly finish his term as Vice President. He has presided over the Rajya Sabha with dignity. UPA is honored to nominate him for a second term as Vice President," Sonia said.
Sources say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani to build consensus on Hamid Ansari.
The BJP core group too is meeting on Saturday evening to take a decision.
TMC leader and Railway Minister Mukul Roy attended the meet on behalf of Mamata Bannerji who had refused to back Ansari. The TMC has proposed the names of Gopal Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose's neice Krishna Bose but failed to get any support. Mamata is also likely to skip Sonia Gandhi's dinner meet for allies on July 18.
75-year-old Ansari, a career diplomat who has also served as Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, will emulate the late philosopher-statesman S Radhakrishnan, who got two terms as vice-president between 1952 and 1962.
In 2007, Ansari was a surprise choice for Vice President when the Left parties--which were supporting the UPA-I government from outside--proposed his name and the Congress-led alliance accepted it.
He had defeated Najma Heptuallah of BJP in the 2007 election securing 455 votes in an electoral college of 788.
Rshid Masood, candidate of UNPA, was placed third.
Well read and an affable personality, Ansari was among the front runners in the race for the Presidential election next week. His name was the UPA's second choice as revealed by Sonia Gandhi but Pranab Mukherjee pipped him to the post after Trinamool Congress' pressure tactics on the Congress failed.
Ansari was Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities when he was nominated for the Vice-Presidential poll in 2007.
By and large, he carried himself well in the post as well as Chairman of Rajya Sabha except for the controversial decision to abruptly adjourn the House on the last day of the winter session last year when the House was expected to vote on the Lokpal bill.
With Additional Inputs From PTI