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Never seen such blatant, shameless misuse of central agencies to fix rivals: Yashwant Sinha

Every institution of democratic governance is being subverted by the BJP government, Yashwant Sinha, the opposition’s nominee for the presidential election, said in Chandigarh.

Opposition's candidate Yashwant Sinha with Congress Legislature Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda. (Twitter @BhupinderShooda)

On a day when the Election Commission started dispatching ballot papers and pens to mark votes as well as ballot boxes for the July 18 presidential election, Yashwant Sinha, the opposition’s nominee for the post, lashed out at the Union Government, accusing it of misusing central investigating agencies to “fix political rivals”.

The former Union minister reached Chandigarh on Tuesday and met Congress MLAs led by Congress Legislature Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda at the latter’s residence in Chandigarh.

“In 60 years, I had never seen such a terror of government agencies the way I am seeing today. I stayed in Atalji’s government for five years. The infamous Enforcement Directorate, the income tax department etc…it had never even struck my mind to use these agencies to fix political opponents.  Those days, there was never such misuse. But these days, both these ED and IT departments are being used so blatantly and shamelessly,” Sinha said, addressing a press conference later.

“The election for the 15th President of India is taking place in highly troubled conditions. Never before — not even during the Emergency in the mid-1970s — did our Republic face as many simultaneous threats to the Constitution. The economy is badly mismanaged, creating unprecedented price rise and unemployment,” Sinha said.

“Our democracy is in grave danger. Every institution of democratic governance is being subverted by the ruling party and its government. Agencies like the ED, CBI, Income Tax department and even the Governor’s office are being weaponised to target opposition leaders, to engineer defections in opposition parties and to topple opposition-run state governments. To win elections, the ruling party has embarked on an evil design to communally polarise India’s multi-faith society. This will have perilous consequences not only for social peace, but also for the nation’s unity and integrity,” Sinha added.

“The ruling dispensation’s agenda of one party, one ruler is meant to convert democratic India into an imitator of communist China. This must be stopped,” he said.

Sinha also took on the NDA’s presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu. “Ever since I filed my nomination on June 27, I have been highlighting these imminent threats to our democracy and our Constitution through my meetings, press conferences and media interviews…I have done so because I believe the people of India have a right to know from candidates for the highest office of the republic what their views are on various issues and challenges for the nation. However, I am dismayed by the fact that the candidate of the ruling party has so far not addressed a single press conference. Perhaps she wants to follow the example of the Prime Minister, who has not addressed a single press conference in the last eight years,” he said, adding that he has “great personal regard” for Murmu.

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Talking about the dramatic turn of events that led to the change in the Maharashtra government, Sinha said, “What happened in Maharashtra? Uddhav Thackeray’s government was toppled. What do you all think that Eknath Shinde got this thought all of a sudden to topple Thackeray’s government after two-and-a-half years? There is a long story behind the curtains. Today, it became even more evident when I learnt that a few Shiv Sena legislators are pressurising Thackeray to vote for the BJP’s nominee in the President elections.”

On the occasion, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president Udai Bhan, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and several Haryana Congress MLAs shared the stage and announced that all of them would vote for Sinha in the upcoming presidential elections.

The Election Commission on Tuesday started the exercise of dispatching the poll material to various state legislative assemblies where voting is scheduled to be held on July 18. Besides legislative assemblies, voting will also take place in Parliament House. Elected MPs and elected MLAs – and not the nominated ones – form the electoral college which elects the president. MLCs are not entitled to vote.

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While the NDA has nominated Murmu as its presidential nominee, major non-BJP parties, including the Congress and the TMC, have named Sinha as their joint nominee.

After the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls fiasco where Congress nominee Ajay Maken lost despite having the numbers, the Congress does not want to take chances in the upcoming presidential elections. CLP leader Hooda had invited all the MLAs for an introductory session with Sinha at the former’s residence on Tuesday. Hooda, party affairs in-charge Vivek Bansal and Bhan chaired the meeting with Sinha.

Sinha said that this election “is not about identities, it is about ideologies. It is about commitments to the Constitution”.

He also put forth a few questions – “Should India have a silent Rashtrapati? Should India have a rubber-stamp Rashtrapati? I am ready for a public presidential debate. Is my rival candidate ready for it?”

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Sinha also weighed in on the Kashmir issue, saying, “If elected, I shall perform my duty as the custodian of the Constitution without fear or favour. One of my priorities would be to urge the government to take all necessary steps to resolve the Kashmir issue permanently, and restore peace, justice, democracy, normalcy and holistic development to Jammu and Kashmir.”

First published on: 12-07-2022 at 05:56:57 pm
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