The July 18 presidential election is much more than a personal contest and is a step towards resisting the authoritarian streak of the government, the Opposition's candidate Yashwant Sinha said on Sunday.
In an interview to PTI, Sinha said he was not in any 'dharma sankat' over not getting the support of his son, Jayant Sinha, a BJP MP. "...he follows his 'Raj Dharma', I will follow my 'Rashtra Dharma'," he said.
"This election is more than merely the election of the president of India. This election is a step towards resisting the authoritarian policies of the government. This election is a message to the people of India that there should be resistance to these policies," he told PTI.
On the BJP-led NDA nominating Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader, for the presidential election, the former Union minister said elevating an individual does not ensure the elevation of the whole community and the BJP's projection of Murmu was nothing more than political symbolism.
"From my long experience of public life, (I can say) the elevation of one individual does not elevate the whole community. The whole community's elevation depends on the policies followed by the government. Without commenting on it further, I would say that there are various examples in our own history where elevation of one individual in a community has not necessarily helped to pull up that community even by an inch. This is more symbolic and nothing more," he said.
Sinha said the contest is much bigger than his personal fight and unless the people wake up and the whole system reforms, "we will not be able to see light at the end of the tunnel".
"Our democracy, our Constitution are threatened and all values of freedom struggle are under threat.... So India is threatened and they have to rise to protect India," he said, adding that he personally thinks that people come out on the streets only when the political system starts to fail.
"Polity of our country today is afflicted with so many weaknesses that people are being forced to come out on the streets. In a democracy, that is not how things should happen," he noted.
Noting that the Rashtrapati Bhavan needs more than a "rubber stamp" occupant, he recalled how such presidents had behaved on some occasions in the past.
"So that would be a catastrophe if we had another rubber stamp at the Rashtrapati Bhawan," he said.
Sinha, who was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA cabinet, said, if elected, he would put an immediate end to the "misuse" of government agencies as a tool to target political opponents and will ensure that justice and fairness prevail.
Sinha will file her nomination papers on Monday. A host of Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee, are expected to accompany him.
With the numbers stacked clearly in favour of the NDA nominee, Sinha claimed he would get the support of certain "invisible forces" between now and the polling date and asserted that there was no question of withdrawing from the contest.