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Sonia calls for conscience vote in president poll

NEW DELHI

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Narendra Modi government, saying the country cannot be hostage to those ‘who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision’ as she called for conscience vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

National Democratic Alliance nominee Ram Nath Kovind and united opposition’s Meira Kumar are in the presidential poll race scheduled to be held on Monday.

Addressing a meeting of several opposition parties on the eve of the presidential poll, she said the election represents “a clash of ideas” and “a conflict of disparate values” and the battle should be fought hard.

Opposition’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar and vice-presidential candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi were present at the meeting. The vice-presidential election will take place on August 5. Both the elections take place through secret ballot and electors are not bound by any whip.

Sonia said that presence of MPs from many parties confirmed that the fight for an inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic India is being truly waged.

Alluding to the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance having an edge in presidential and vice-presidential elections, she appealed for conscience vote.

“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.

“This election represents a clash of ideas, a conflict of disparate values. The election demands a vote of conscience to preserve the India that Mahatma Gandhi and that illustrious generation of freedom fighters, joined by thousands upon thousands of ordinary men and women, fought for,” she said.

Meira Kumar and Gopalkrishna Gandhi will be the “best possible president and vice-president to steer our society through the crisis that has beset our country today”, she added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked all political parties for a very dignified campaign for the July 17 presidential election.

“It would have been better if there was a consensus for the president’s election. But, the election campaign for this election was very dignified. There was no instance of use of harsh words or feelings. I thank everyone for this,” Modi was quoted by a federal minister as saying at an all-party meeting in Parliament House Complex, ahead of Parliament’s monsoon session from Monday.

Federal Parliamentary Affairs Minister HN Ananth Kumar said Modi later appealed to all the members of Parliament and state assemblies to vote in the president’s election.

Trinamool Congress boycotted the meeting while no representative of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United was present.

Meanwhile, a meeting of BJP parliamentary board will be held on Monday to decide the name of vice-presidential candidate, party sources said.

The meeting of the board will be held a day before the end of nominations for the vice-presidential elections.

The meeting will be attended by the prime minister, party chief Amit Shah and other members of the board.

Agencies