Updated: June 28, 2022 2:34:09 am
Yashwant Sinha, the Opposition’s candidate for the July 18 Presidential elections against NDA’s Draupadi Murmu, filed his nomination papers on Monday in the presence of senior Opposition leaders from 16 parties, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and said he is contesting to save the country and its Constitution.
Sinha and Opposition leaders framed the contest as a fight between two ideologies.
“This election is not about two people,” Sinha said after filing his nomination. “I have great personal regard for Draupadi Murmu. It is not about where we come from, or the people that we represent. This is an election between two ideologies — their (BJP’s) ideology is absolute power with destruction of democracy; our ideology is freedom for every Indian citizen.”
The Opposition got a boost with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) officially announcing its support to Sinha. Senior TRS leader and Telangana minister K T Rama Rao was present during filing of the nomination.
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Many senior Opposition leaders accompanied Sinha when he filed the nomination. Besides Rao, Pawar and Rahul Gandhi, among others present were Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, TMC leaders Abhishek Banerjee and Saugata Roy, Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M) and CPI’s D Raja, DMK’s A Raja and Tiruchi Siva, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, Misa Bharti of RJD, RSP’s N K Premachandran, VCK’s Thol Tirumavalavan, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, and Mohammed Basheer from the Muslim League.
Sinha handed over four sets of nomination papers to Rajya Sabha Secretary-General P C Mody, who is the Returning Officer for the Presidential election. He is likely to begin the first leg of his campaign this week from Chennai. He will subsequently travel to Kerala and Karnataka.
The opposition parties announced the formation of a 11-member committee to steer Sinha’s campaign. Among its members are Congress’s Jairam Ramesh, DMK’s Siva, TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Left’s Yechury and Raja, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, NCP’s Praful Patel, TRS’s Ranjit Reddy, RJD’s Manoj Jha, Sudheendra Kulkarni and a nominee of the Shiv Sena.
“All opposition parties are unitedly supporting Yashwant Sinha,” Rahul Gandhi said. “Of course, we are supporting the individual, but the real fight is between two ideologies. One ideology (is) of the RSS….anger, hatred; and the other of compassion — of all the opposition parties, which are standing together.”
Other Opposition leaders echoed the sentiments. Roy said the fight is between communalism and secularism, and authoritarianism versus democracy.
Calling NDA’s projection of Draupadi Murmu as a “tribal face” mere “tokenism”, Rao, TRS’s working president, said, “This will not change the world for tribals in the country.”
Addressing the media, Sinha launched a scathing attack on BJP, of which he was a front-line leader for more than two decades. “Their ideology wants to crush us Indians and our democracy. Our ideology wants to free us and strengthen our democracy. The ruling party is contemptuous of our Constitution, which limits executive power to its proper place; their (NDA’s) goal is to exercise absolute, unchecked power,” he said.
He said BJP does not believe in democracy and alleged that all power is centralised in the hands of the Prime Minister. He said: “Every single institution in this country is being corrupted and weakened to maintain his hold over the system. As citizens, we must ask: why? Why are they destroying Indian democracy? What are their goals? Do they want to establish a dictatorship for a few.
“The Cabinet has become a shell. Parliament has been made a rubber stamp. Laws are rushed through the system without any scrutiny or debate.”
Sinha said BJP wants the office of the President to become another rubber stamp.
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