New Delhi, June 27: The fight for the Office of President of India is that of ideologies, and not a battle of ‘identity’, Opposition’s Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha said on Monday, and called upon all electors to listen to their conscience calling it a struggle to “save democracy”.
Sinha, a former union minister and a retired IAS officer, filed his nomination for the top office on Monday. He will start a nation-wide tour soon to seek support of different party MPs and MLAs.
Addressing a press conference here after filing his nomination, Sinha, who is faced by Draupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha and former Jharkhand governor, said he has been repeatedly asked why he is not withdrawing from the fight.
“This is not a contest of identities, this is a contest of ideologies,” Sinha said.
“I’m being asked why aren’t you stepping aside. My name was nominated earlier”. He said, blaming the government for not trying to build a consensus for a presidential candidate.
“If a person from a community rises up, it is not necessary that the whole community will progress. We have a President in office who is also from a community, have problems of that community been resolved?” he questioned.
Sinha, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, blamed the current dispensation of playing identity politics. And said not much has been done in reality for the Dalits and Tribal communities.
He stressed that the need of the hour was to have a person in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Who is capable of protecting democracy.
“It is important that a person who can carry the responsibilities of being the President should be in Rashtrapati Bhawan. If there is someone who is in control of the government there will be no point. There have been many occasions when the President has been reduced to rubber stamps. And has not carried their duties”. He said.
He said democracy in India was under threat and all institutions were being destroyed.
He also commented on the recent questioning of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by Enforcement Directorate (ED). And said, “The intention is not to probe, the intention is to humiliate leaders”.
He also mentioned demonetisation and called it the “biggest scam” of this century. And also mentioned abrogation of Article 370 and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“There is no recourse anywhere for citizens today… How many cases are pending, what happened to the case on Article 370, CAA, there was no hearing held… In such a situation social harmony is disrupted and people come on the streets. We are already seeing how youth are on the streets,”. He said, referring to the recent protests against the government’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the forces.
“No one talks about demonetisation. RBI did not even give data on how many currency notes came back. We don’t know if more than 100 percent of the money came back,” he said.
“I am not aware how much back money has come back. But I can say demonetization is the biggest scam of this century”.
He also commented on the under construction new Parliament building, and said. “Building a new building will not give life to Parliament. I went there today to file my nomination, it used to be beautiful. But now it’s in a ghastly state”.
Asked about numbers being stacked against him, the veteran politician once again said. The fight was not about numbers. Adding that the Opposition unity would go all the way to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“The BJP will not be able to benefit from a fragmented Opposition in 2024”.
Sinha, who was picked as the Opposition candidate. After Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Gopal Krishna Gandhi turned down the offer. Said he would have agreed to fight even if he was the 10th candidate on the list.
“This is a big battle, even if I can make a small contribution I would be eager to do it…”. He said.
“I will fight till a single drop of blood is left in my veins”. He said.
“Our previous generation fought for independence. We strengthened that democracy. Today, in the evening of our lives, we are seeing that democracy is slowly dying. We will not allow that”. He said.
“So many Opposition parties coming together is a good sign for democracy. This unity will go a long way.” He said.
Asked about his son Jayant Sinha. Who continues to be in the BJP, he said. “He is following his ‘Rajdharma’, I am following my ‘Rashtradharma’.”
He also said he will seek support of his former colleagues in the BJP. And said he had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking their support. But could not talk to them.
Presidential polls will be held on July 18.