The July 18 presidential election is much more than a personal contest and is a step towards resisting the authoritarian streak of the government, the Opposition’s candidate Yashwant Sinha said on Sunday as he ruled out withdrawing from the race.
In an interview to PTI, Sinha said he was not in any ‘dharma sankat’ over not getting the support of his son and BJP MP Jayant Sinha. ”…he follows his ‘Raj Dharma’, I will follow my ‘Rashtra Dharma’,” he said.
”This election is more than merely the election of the president of India. This election is a step towards resisting the authoritarian policies of the government. This election is a message to the people of India that there should be resistance to these policies,” he told PTI.
On the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominating Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader, for the presidential election, the former Union minister said elevating an individual does not ensure the elevation of the whole community and the BJP’s projection of Murmu was nothing more than political symbolism.
”From my long experience of public life, (I can say) the elevation of one individual does not elevate the whole community. The whole community’s elevation depends on the policies followed by the government. Without commenting on it further, I would say that there are various examples in our own history where elevation of one individual in a community has not necessarily helped to pull up that community even by an inch. This is more symbolic and nothing more,” he said.
Sinha said the contest is much bigger than merely his personal fight and unless the people wake up and the whole system is reformed, ”we will not be able to see light at the end of the tunnel”.
”Our democracy, our Constitution are threatened and all values of freedom struggle are under threat…. So India is threatened and they have to rise to protect India,” he said, adding that he personally thinks that people come out on the streets only when the political system starts to fail.
”Polity of our country today is afflicted with so many weaknesses that people are being forced to come out on the streets. In a democracy, that is not how things should happen,” he noted.
Noting that the Rashtrapati Bhavan needs more than a ”rubber stamp” occupant, he recalled how such presidents had behaved on some occasions in the past. ”So that would be a catastrophe if we had another rubber stamp at the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” he said.
Sinha, who was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA cabinet, said, if elected, he would put an immediate end to the ”misuse” of government agencies as a tool to target political opponents and will ensure that justice and fairness prevail.
Sinha will file his nomination papers on Monday. A host of Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee, are expected to accompany him.
With the numbers stacked clearly in favour of the NDA nominee, Sinha claimed he would get the support of certain ”invisible forces” between now and the polling date and asserted that there was no question of withdrawing from the contest. ”I personally feel that there will be developments between now and July 18 which will go in my favour. I will get support from ‘adrishya shaktiyan’ (invisible forces),” he said.
Asked if he was considering withdrawing from the race, he said, ”Absolutely not. The word withdraw does not exist in my lexicon.” ”…when you go into an ideological battle, then numbers become less important. And just because of fear of losing, I don’t think any serious fighter should withdraw from the battle,” he said.
Sinha said there were no cracks in the Opposition ranks.
With so many Opposition parties coming together to have their joint consensus candidate, it is a good beginning for the Opposition going forward.
Sinha will launch his campaign from June 28 and is likely to start from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. He will cover the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka in the first round before moving to the north.
Asked about his message to the electoral college, he said, ”We have talked about the prevailing situation in the country and very unwelcome developments which have taken place in the last eight years…. How democracy has been diminished and how democratic institutions have been compromised and there appears to be no resistance to a rampaging state.” ”The investigative agencies of the government have never been so blatantly misused for political purposes as today…,” he said, claiming that there is not one case against any BJP leader as if all corrupt are on the Opposition side and no one is corrupt on the BJP side.
He said the way Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are being treated is an eye-opener.
Sinha referred to his questioning at his residence by investigation agencies in a hawala case and said the case later did not stand in court.
”We felt even at that time that cases were politically motivated. But, today there is no other way except to consider that these are political cases. The surprising thing is that no case comes to fruition and we forget them after a while.
”It has become a political tool. I have no hesitation in saying that many people who are jumping on to the other side (of politics) are actually scared of the CBI, ED. They may have been threatened…,” he said.
Sinha has already reached out to several opposition parties and the BJP seeking their support to him.
”My victory…will not only take me to Rashtrapati Bhavan, but it will put an end to this mischievous action on the part of the government. I would like to assure all of them who are scared of the government because of the ED, CBI, etc., they will have to wait only until July 18 and If I were to win immediately everything will come to an end and fairness and justice will prevail,” he asserted.