Accompanied by representatives of 14 opposition parties, joint opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha on Monday filed his nomination papers for the presidential elections. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha were conspicuous by their absence. Both the parties have not yet declared their preference between the government-sponsored candidate Droupadi Murmu and Mr. Sinha.
Mr. Sinha was flanked by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, Trinamool Congress's Abhishek Banerjee, DMK leaders Tiruchi Siva and A. Raja, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D. Raja and RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary among others. Notably, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which had skipped both the opposition meetings called for presidential elections, was also present. The party was represented by Telangana Minister K.T. Rama Rao and Lok Sabha member Nama Nageshwar Rao.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Gandhi once again endorsed Mr. Sinha's candidature.
‘Fight between 2 ideologies’
"All opposition parties are unitedly supporting Mr. Sinha. Of course, we are supporting the individual, but the real fight is between two ideologies, one ideology of the RSS, anger, hatred and the other of compassion, of all the opposition parties, which are standing together," he said.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Mr. Sinha said many people were saying that he was the fourth choice of the Opposition but even if he was the 10th choice, he would have accepted the responsibility because it was a big battle. Mr. Sinha also said that he would try to reach out to his old BJP colleagues for support.
"I am fighting this election to save India and India's Constitution. This election is not about two people. I have great personal regard for Ms. Droupadi Murmu. It is not about where we come from or the people that we represent. This is an election between two ideologies," Mr. Sinha said.
He also attacked the BJP government at the Centre alleging that the ruling party was contemptuous of the Constitution and that all power was centralised with the Prime Minister. "Our Prime Minister acts without thinking or consulting people. He makes big, terrible mistakes since he wants absolute power. Our country suffered during demonetisation, what was the need for that, and what did it accomplish. Then we had GST which wiped out our traders and small businesses," he said.
He alleged that the Union Cabinet and Parliament had become dysfunctional under the present regime and they want the President's office too to be a rubber stamp.