The Presidential elections is about saving India's secular democratic character and in the 75th year of India's Independence, it is a battle of Gandhi vs Godse, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Speaking to The Hindu he said that the Opposition might not have the numbers but this is an ideological fight and crucial because it precedes the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. "It is an opportunity for the Opposition to send a message to the people of this country on what we stand for. The immediate task ahead of us is to protect the Constitutional systems as we know it," Mr. Yechury said. Barring the 1977 election, every Presidential poll has seen a contest between the Opposition and the ruling party.
And this is why the Left parties, he said, is supporting the candidature of former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi. "He has a vast experience in public life and he represents an ideology that stands in contrast to the ruling party’s idea of India. But he is one of the many names that the Opposition is considering. We will have a second round of meeting on June 20 or 21, where through consultations we will come up with a consensus candidate," he added.
Mr. Yechury said that it is unfortunate that political parties such as the TRS and the AAP did not participate in the joint Opposition meeting held on June 15, but added that ultimately the position of these parties viz-a-viz the Opposition will be decided on the basis of which bloc they vote for.
Soon after the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for the Presidential elections, the Congress had spoken to multiple Opposition parties to begin consultations. But TMC chief Mamata Banerjee jumping the gun called for a meeting. Mr. Yechury said, he is not duly worried about the contest for the lead position within the Opposition. "There is nothing unusual or unnatural about this. The crucial thing for the Opposition is to stay united and present an alternative," he added.
He accused the government of not taking the initiative to hold a dialogue on the Presidential candidate. Mr. Yechury dismissed the calls made by BJP president J.P. Nadda and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to the political parties. "I don't know who the government called and who they didn't. Fact is, they did not come up with a concrete proposal," he added.