New Delhi: Opposition joint presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha on Sunday launched a scathing attack on rival NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu, saying if elected, she will become a “silent, pliant and rubber-stamp Rashtrapati”.
The former BJP leader made a fervent appeal to parliamentarians and legislators across the country to vote for him regardless of party affiliations to help “save the Constitution, democracy, secularism and India”.
“This election is your last chance to introduce much-needed course correction in the BJP,” he told lawmakers from the saffron party.
Sinha has repeatedly urged lawmakers to vote with the call of conscience in the election, where the win of Murmu is a forgone conclusion with several non-NDA parties also supporting the candidature of the tribal leader.
In a letter to all elector MPs and MLAs, Sinha said he was overwhelmed with the support he has received from across the country and thanked the opposition parties who deemed him to be suitable for being their consensus candidate. He targeted Murmu, alleging she is supported by those who want to change the Constitution, who are mounting daily attacks on democracy, are destroying the pillar of secularism and are establishing majoritarian supremacy and practice the politics of confrontation and conflict.
This election, he said, is not about the identities of the two candidates in the fray but about the ideologies and ideals they represent.
“My ideology is the Constitution of India. My rival candidate represents those forces whose ideology and agenda, let’s make no mistake, is to change the Constitution. I stand for safeguarding India’s democratic system. My rival candidate is supported by those who are mounting daily attacks on democracy,” read the post.
“I stand for protecting secularism, a Preambular pillar of our Constitution, which is best exemplified by India’s age-old Ganga-Jamuni heritage of unity in diversity. My rival candidate belongs to a party that has made no secret of its resolve to destroy this pillar and establish majoritarian supremacy. I stand for encouraging politics of consensus and cooperation,” Sinha wrote.
“My rival is backed by a party that practices politics of confrontation and conflict. I stand for the Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights of every Indian citizen, without any discrimination. My rival is chosen by those who are violating this principle with impunity,” he alleged.
Sinha said he stands for harmonious Centre-State relations and cooperative federalism. ”My rival is the nominee of an establishment that has launched multiple assaults on the Federal Structure of the Indian Constitution,” Sinha alleged in his appeal to members of the electoral college. He alleged that never before have so many powers been concentrated in New Delhi, and never have states felt so “disempowered and demeaned”.
“The opposition candidate said he stood for “one nation, many parties, collective leadership” “My rival, again make no mistake, will be under the control of those whose aim is to convert democratic India into an imitator of Communist China – ‘One nation, one party, one supreme leader’,” he said, calling for stopping this in his appeal.
Sinha said it was never the intention of the makers of the Constitution that the highest office of the Republic should be used for appeasement of any section of society. Much less did they envision the office of President to be subservient to that of an all-powerful Prime Minister, he noted.
“I have repeatedly pledged that, if elected, I shall function, without fear or favour, as the Custodian of the Constitution and restrain, when the need arises, institutional misuse by an authoritarian and undemocratic executive. My rival candidate has made no such pledge,” read the post.
“Indeed, throughout the campaign, she has remained eloquently silent, thereby giving advance notice that, if elected, she will become a silent, pliant and rubber-stamp Rashtrapati,” the former union minister said.
“What kind of President does India deserve? One who will protect the Constitution or one who will protect the Prime Minister,” he asked while making his last appeal to the electoral college.
Noting that there is no whip in the poll, he said the makers of the Constitution devised the method of secret ballot to underscore the fact that members of the Electoral College should have the freedom to heed the ‘Call of their Conscience.
“Therefore, I urge you, regardless of your party affiliations, to vote for me – ‘to Save the Constitution, to save democracy, to save secularism and to save India’,” he said.
Making a special appeal to BJP leagislators and MPs, Sinha said he too once belonged to this party. “However, I regret to say that the party that was once led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani is dead and gone. Under the present sole leader, it’s an altogether different and degraded party.
“I am sure most of you know the difference and lament it as much as I do. This election is your last chance to introduce much-needed course correction in the BJP. By ensuring my election, you will have rendered a great service to the cause of saving the BJP and saving democracy in India,” he said.
Sinha, who began his electoral campaign from Kerala on June 28, said he ended the same on July 16 with a visit to his home state of Jharkhand.
During this period, he said he visited 13 state capitals – Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Raipur, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Guwahati, Bhopal, Patna and Ranchi, and addressed several press conferences and 50 interviews.
The presidential election is being held today and the results will be out on Thursday, July 21.