The new Vice-President, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu prefers to be in touch with people as he used to be till now, even after he took over the second highest Constitutional position in India on Friday. This is what he conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP top brass, including party president Amit Shah, when they picked him as the party candidate for the post last month. According to sources close to the Vice-President, both PM Modi and Shah had agreed to his wish and they were confident that he would enhance the image of his position in the next five years. Though he didn’t say in so many words, Venkaiah Naidu, too, confirmed this to select media persons at a breakfast get-together hosted in his honour here this week.

Right from his typical Andhra attire of white shirt and lungi (adda panche), Venkaiah doesn’t want to give up any of his style and lifestyle even after occupying the Vice-President’s post. Not just that, he also doesn’t want to lose touch with people, public representatives and friends in his new apolitical avatar. “I will continue to be available to you all, though I may not speak politics henceforth,” he said at the get-together.

That they are not casual assurances was evident from the fact that Venkaiah Naidu had made enquiries with the staff of the Vice-President’s office as well as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to know to what extent he could be in touch with the public and public representatives, what were his do’s and don’ts and what he could do if an MP or a state lawmaker came to him for any help.

Venakaiah Naidu called for details of the style of functioning of previous Vice Presidents, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Mohammad Hidayatullah, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, Krishna Kant and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, among others, so that he can find ways to mingle with people. The new Vice-President is keen on studying his powers as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Articles 64 and 65 of the Constitution, which speak about the Vice-President’s powers, merely say that the person will have to act as the President with full powers only when there is either a vacancy to the post or the President cannot discharge her or his duties. Otherwise, the Vice-President doesn’t have any executive powers in normal times.

Sources close to Venkaiah Naidu explained to this newspaper that he will, of course, have powers as the Chairman of RS, which is also called the Council of States in the Constitution. The new Vice-President is examining his powers to call Union ministers or seek their explanations if they fail to keep their assurances given in the Upper House. However, he cannot directly intervene in matters. Other than this, Venkaiah Naidu will not have many differences in his active pubic life. He will visit Hyderabad and districts in Andhra Pradesh on weekends, like in the past and participate in social, literary and non-political meetings. “Being away from politics doesn’t mean being away from people. I cannot live cut off from the public,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the get-together.

The presence of MPs from TDP, TRS and YSR Congress at his swearing-in ceremony on Friday indicated his continued popularity among political parties in both Telangana and AP. All leading daily newspapers in Hyderabad carried full-page advertisements greeting him on his assuming the Vice-President’s office. He is expected back in Hyderabad on Sunday for a felicitation. 

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