Democracy is in danger, warn Vajpayee, Fernandes

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Jul 13 | Updated: Jul 14 2007, 05:50am hrs
Indirectly ridiculing the Congress and Sonia Gandhi for attempting to subvert democratic process in the country, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and NDA convener George Fernandes have appealed to the electorate to support independent Presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Likening the present situation with the emergency of the 70s, both the leaders warned the electorate that the danger of authoritarian forces was looming large again.

While giving the appeal a different colour from Leader of Opposition LK Advans open letter to the electorate, Vajpayee and Fernandes avoided any direct attack on UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil, focusing instead on the good qualities of Shekhawat and the circumstances why one should vote for him.

Both of us are products of the glorious democratic process of the country. So is Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. We did not rise in politics because we were born in a particular family. We rose because of love and affection that people showered on us. Today, that the fabric of democracy is stretched to the limit and is in danger of being torn asunder by the authoritarian forces once again, the leaders said in their joint appeal.

It was the opportunity provided by our democracy, which enabled Shekhawatji to rise to the exalted post of the Vice-President. He has had a long and distinguished career of five-and-a-half decades in public life. He has few peers. We are writing this to appeal to you to vote for him, the letter said.

Blaming the ruling alliance for making this round of Presidential election controversial, the leaders said, In the beginning, this election also looked like an ordinary and normal. Presidential elections have been fought in the past and a contest was on the cards once again. The ruling coalition made no attempt to evolve a consensus as they wanted to impose their nominee on us. They called up only after deciding on the name.

In the letter they also criticised the government and its constituent partners for making unprincipled opposition in denying a second term to President APJ Abdul Kalam. Shekhawat entered the fray only after Kalam decided not to seek a second term, they said.

In an attempt to reach out to MPs and MLAs who have reservation against Shekhawat for his association with the BJP and the RSS, the letter intended to convince them that he has not been a member of the BJP since 2002 since he became the Vice-President.