August 03, 2020
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"BJP Wants To Whitewash Gujarat"

Senior CPI(M) leader and politburo member Sitaram Yechury spoke to Abhik Siddiqui on why his party is not supporting Dr Abdul Kalam's candidature. Excerpts:

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"BJP Wants To Whitewash Gujarat"
Why are you opposed to Dr Kalam?

Our opposition has nothing to do with his personal achievements in science. We feel the BJP wants to whitewash what happened in Gujarat by elevating a person from the minority community to the post. It wants to pursue its aggressive nationalism by making the father of the Indian missile programme also the supreme commander of the armed forces. His candidature has been proposed by the BJP and the NDA. The CPI(M) and the Left have always opposed the government all along. We think its policies are extremely dangerous for the well being of the country. So how can we support the NDA candidate?

Do you think Kalam has allowed himself to be appropriated by the NDA and the BJP?

Whether he was appropriated or not is not the main question. He was simply the NDA choice—their candidate, not ours. We can't accept their candidate.

Do you think in today's coalition culture the president should be politically savvy?

The post of president is the highest constitutional authority of the country. He has to play the crucial role of upholding the Constitution, protecting the nation's secular fabric. He isn't simply a rubber stamp. On the contrary, it's a politically sensitive office which requires a certain degree of political experience. Also, I don't think the post of president should be simply seen as a way to honour somebody.

The numbers don't add up for you? Why take up the issue still?

Politics is not all about numbers. We may very well lose the numbers game but we still want to make our point. We want to make our position clear.
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