Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today deprecated attempts at projecting the presidential poll as a “fight of ideologies”, insisting there was no place for ideologies in the functioning of the president who does not have “political decision making powers”.
Apparently referring to the opposition’s presidential nominee Meira Kumar’s comments here yesterday that she was fighting an “ideological battle”, Naidu said the only ideology the president could have was the commitment to the Indian Constitution.
“They are trying to politicise this (presidential) election. Politics is in elections. (They say) this is an ideological election. (This is) not an ideological election. President does not have political decision-making powers,” he said.
“(They say) fight of ideology. The only ideology president can have is commitment to the Constitution of India. That is the only ideology. Other ideologies have no place,” the minister said.
Kumar, who is pitted against Ramnath Kovind, the NDA nominee and a fellow Dalit, had said she was fighting an “ideological battle” and that it should not been misconstrued as a Dalit versus Dalit contest.
She had targeted the Modi government over the “atmosphere of fear” prevailing in the country, and insisted she was fighting for “freedom of expression and freedom of press”.
Kumar, a former speaker of the Lok Sabha, had said,”There is so much of fear about what one should eat. There is fear about what one should say. I am also fighting for freedom of expression, freedom of press.”
Hitting back, Naidu said,”my friends from the other side, I don’t want to name the parties… they are trying to divert the attention, saying ‘commitment to democracy’. Who is talking about it, who imposed Emergency, put all of us in jails? They are talking about democracy.”
Asserting that the president could only tender advice to the government, he alleged that the opposition was talking about issues like social security and economic disparities which are not issues of immediate concern in a presidential election.
It would have been good had the Congress not fielded its candidate as the NDA consulted and sought suggestions of the Congress, the Left and other opposition parties before finalising the name of Kovind, he said.
“It would have been good if the Congress had not put up a candidate. In democracy, everybody has got a right to contest an election. I am not questioning that,” he said.
Kovind rose from humble origins and became a lawyer in the Supreme Court. He also worked as the head of the BJP’s Scheduled Castes Morcha, and served as Bihar Governor, he said.
Naidu was speaking at a reception hosted by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for Kovind.
During a whirl-wind visit to Hyderabad, Kovind interacted with the Telangana legislators belonging to the TRS, BJP, TDP and also the YSR Congress.
The NDA nominee has received support even from non-NDA parties like Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), the BJD, YSR Congress and the TRS, and he is sure to win, Naidu said, thanking Rao for supporting Kovind’s candidature.