Krishan Kant is India's first vice-president to die in office. He is also one of four vice-presidents so far who failed to make it to the Presidency. His term was to end on August 26.
Before the National Democratic Alliance zeroed in on A P J Abdul Kalam, Krishan Kant was one of the front-runners for the post with former Maharashtra governor P C Alexander. At one point, his name had been almost finalized with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee sounding out the opposition, including the Congress and the Left Front.
But though the Telugu Desam Party aggressively pushed Krishan Kant's candidature and the Samajwadi Party and the Congress expressed a willingness to support him, Vajpayee had to back out when the proposal was shot down by National Front convenor George Fernandes, Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and BJP hardliners.
Krishan Kant had served as governor of Andhra Pradesh for seven and a half years (1989-97) before his elevation to the vice-presidency. He was governor when N Chandrababu Naidu toppled TDP founder-patriarch N T Rama Rao in August-September 1995.
Chief Minister Naidu was instrumental in Krishan Kant's elevation to the vice-president's post in July 1997 when the United Front was in power at the Centre and Naidu was convenor of the front. Naidu, however, could not repeat the performance and get him elevated to the Presidency.
Of the 10 personalities who have held the vice-president's post so far, only four have failed to make it to the highest office. Way back in 1974, Vice-President Gopal Swarup Pathak missed being elevated to the Presidency because Prime Minister Indira Gandhi chose Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a senior minister in her Cabinet.
Two other vice-presidents, Basappa Dasappa Jatti and Mohammed Hidayatullah, did not get elevated to the Presidency as they were mid-way through their vice-presidential terms (in 1977 and 1984, respectively) when new Presidents (Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and R Venkataraman) were elected.
Jatti, however, had a brief stint as acting President from February 11 to July 25, 1977, following Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed's death in office. Rather than elevate Jatti, a Congressman, Prime Minister Morarji Desai [of the Janata Party] chose Sanjiva Reddy, then speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Hidayatullah also had a brief stint as acting President from July 20 to August 24, 1969, but in his capacity as chief justice of India, when Vice-President V V Giri, who was acting President, quit both posts to contest the presidential election against Sanjiva Reddy. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had first cleared Reddy's candidature, but later backed Giri, a move that led to the first major split in the Congress.
Incidentally, Giri was only halfway through his term as vice-president when he was elected President. R Venkataraman was the other vice-president who did not complete his term, having been chosen by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to be India's eighth President.
The vice-presidents who were elevated to the presidency were Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Dr Zakir Hussain, V V Giri, R Venkataraman, Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma and K R Narayanan. Only Dr Radhakrishnan had two terms as vice-president.
Dr S Radhakrishnan: 1952-1962
Dr Zakir Hussain: 1962-1967
Varahagiri Venkata Giri: 1967-1969
Gopal Swarup Pathak: 1969-1974
Basappa Dasappa Jatti: 1974-1979
Mohammed Hidayatullah: 1979-1984
Ramaswami Venkataraman: 1984-1987
Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma: 1987-92
Kocheril Raman Narayanan: 1992-1997
Krishan Kant: 1997-2002
Death of a Vice-President: The complete coverage
The 11th President of India: Complete Coverage
The Presidency: A Special Series
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