“Constitution under seige”; Prez, VP polls crucial: Sonia

16 July, New Delhi

Stating that both the Constitution and the law were ”under seige” today, Congress President Sonia Gandhi appealed to all the political parties to vote for such people to the office of President and Vice President as could protect these.

While admitting that numbers were not with them, Ms Gandhi, however, said it was important to fight the battle to reaffirm the idea of India that the freedom fighters fought for.

The Congress president’s remarks came while addressing a meeting of the opposition parties here on the eve of Presidential poll.
”In these contests, the numbers may be against us. But the battle must be fought and fought hard. We cannot and must not let India be hostage to those who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision,” she said.

Appealing to the MPs cutting across party line to vote ”on their conscience” for Ms Meira Kumar as President and Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi as Vice President, Ms Gandhi said they all should ensure that ”the best minds and the best servants of India stand at the helm.”

”Together, Meira-ji, and Gopalkrishna Gandhi-ji will give us the best possible President and Vice-President to steer our society through the crisis that has beset our country today,” she said.

She stressed that these elections represented a clash of ideas, a conflict of disparate values, and demanded a vote of conscience to preserve the India that the Mahatma and that illustrious generation of freedom fighters, joined by thousands upon thousands of ordinary men and women, fought for.

”The President and Vice-President are the constitutional heads of state. They are entrusted to discharge the duties of their offices in a manner that preserves, protects and defends both the Constitution and the law,”she said.

She said their meeting marks not only their coming together to protect and preserve the pluralistic democracy, but also their shared vision for their nation. ”What is at stake is our future, and the values we cherish and must uphold especially at this time of grave disquiet,” Ms Gandhi said.

Both of these are, sadly, under siege today,” she said. The election to the post of Vice President will be held on August 5. The BJP parliamentary executive committee and NDA leaders met separately but it was not yet clear on whether any name for the Vice Presidential nominee for the ruling side came up for consideration.

The BJP Parliamentary Board, saffron outfit’s highest policy making body, will meet here tomorrow to finalise the name of NDA nominee for Vice President’s post.The last date of filing nomination for Vice President’s post in July 18, Tuesday.The united opposition has already decided to field Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former West Bengal Governor and a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, for the post.The voting for Presidential election between Ram Nath Kovind of NDA and Meira Kumar of opposition will take place tomorrow.

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