A day after some parties from the Opposition attended the midnight GST launch at Parliament, which was boycotted by the Congress, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Opposition was united and would remain so. He said a contest in the vice-presidential was on the cards and extended an olive branch to the JD(U), which has backed the NDA nominee in the presidential elections.
Azad described the attendance of parties like the SP, BSP, JD(S) and JD(U) at the central hall event as a “small thing”. “There was only a symbolic representation. Only one or two individuals went. The MPs of these parties did not go… the central hall was filled with the guests, not MPs,” he told The Sunday Express. “The Opposition is united and will remain so. Small things like some parties attending… do not matter.”
Azad also appeared soft on the JD(U), which had broken ranks with the Opposition to back the NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. He said he believed the JD(U)’s support to Kovind was a one-off case. “I am more than 100 per cent sure that like any other secular party, the JD(U) can never compromise with non-secular parties,” he said.
On the JD(U) taking exception to his remarks about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he said, “I had said that this (presidential elections) is an ideological fight for us. And I had said that I don’t know why the JD(U) has chosen this (path). I didn’t say he (Nitish) is not ideologically with us.”
On Friday, senior JD(U) leader K C Tyagi had lashed out at the Congress, its coalition partner in Bihar, accusing it of “character assassination” of the Bihar CM. Asked whether he believed the JD(U) would come back into the Opposition fold for the vice-presidential elections, he said, “They are part of the coalition. Supporting or not supporting a particular Bill or issue does not mean that we will break. And it does not mean a compromise on ideology. I am sure the JD(U) cannot compromise with the ideology,” he said.
On the vice-presidential polls, he said, “We have not discussed with anybody” but “definitely we will contest”. Azad said the Congress’s decision to stay away from the GST event was not because it was opposed to the GST.
“We did not go because we did not agree with the manner in which the entire function was organised. It could have been done during the day time… We have had the Constitution amended more than 100 times. We have passed legislations of historical nature… but we never indulged in such pomp and show over a Bill…”
“Our boycott was because we did not want a Bill to be compared to midnight functions held on August 15, 1947, and subsequently in 1962 and 1997 to mark the silver and golden jubilee of India’s Independence… no Bill can be compared with the independence of India… this is undermining the very sanctity of the independence movement,” he said.