Yashwant Sinha files nomination for prez poll

NEW DELHI, 27 Jun: Former union minister Yashwant Sinha filed his nomination on Monday as the common opposition candidate against NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu for the 18 July presidential election, a contest described by his supporters as a battle of ideologies.

The 84-year-old, accompanied by his wife Nilima and flanked by leaders of at least 15 opposition parties, including Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Farooq Abdullah and KT Rama Rao, submitted four sets of

nomination papers to Rajya Sabha Secretary General PC Mody, who is the returning officer for the 16th presidential election.

The first set of nomination papers had Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge as proposers, while the second set had Trinamool Congress leader Sudeep Bandyopadhyay as a proposer.

The other two sets had DMK supremo Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as proposers.

Each set of nomination papers was signed by 60 proposers and 60 seconders.

Sinha paid Rs 15,000 in cash as a security deposit for the presidential election.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced his support to Sinha hours before he filed the nomination. Rao’s son and senior minister KT Rama Rao led a delegation of party leaders to be by Sinha’s side in Parliament.

There was no representative from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which had endorsed Sinha’s candidature but was mulling backing Murmu, a tribal leader belonging to the Santhal community.

Leaders of the Shiv Sena too were not present as they were busy with the political crisis in the party’s home turf Maharashtra.

After filing the nomination papers, Sinha and opposition leaders offered floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar on Parliament premises.

Addressing the media later, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that all opposition parties are united in supporting Sinha’s candidature for the top constitutional post.

“Of course, we support the individual, but the real fight is between two ideologies. One is the ideology of RSS, that of anger, hatred, and the other of compassion of all the opposition parties who are standing together,” Gandhi said.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy described Sinha as the best candidate to uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution.

“It is not a fight between two individuals only; it is a fight between two ideologies – between communalism and secularism, and authoritarianism versus democracy. I think under the circumstances, Yashwant Sinha is the best candidate,” Roy said while noting that he is a former IAS officer and a former union minister of finance and external affairs.

“On a person-to-person basis, Sinha is far better. All opposition parties are fully supporting him. The Congress, DMK, socialist parties and Left parties are supporting him. I think it is a rainbow-coloured coalition of best values,” the TMC leader said.

Sinha is likely to launch his campaign on Tuesday from Kerala, followed by visits to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Top opposition leaders, including Pawar, Gandhi, Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee and Saugata Roy, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and A Raja, former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, the CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury and the CPI’s D Raja were also present.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Misa Bharti, the Revolutionary Socialist Party’s NK Premchandran, the Indian Union Muslim League’s Mohammed Bashir and the NCP’s Praful Patel were among the leaders who accompanied Sinha.

NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu filed her nomination papers last week. (PTI)