Yashwant Sinha, the opposition’s pick for the upcoming presidential elections, on Wednesday said that former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was “forced” to support NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu, days after Thackeray announced the Shiv Sena’s decision to back her. “I’m not fighting a political party, but the might of the central government,” Sinha told journalists in Guwahati, where he is presently campaigning for the President elections.
Speaking to opposition MLAs in Assam, Sinha also said that he will ensure that the “foolishly drafted” Citizenship Amendment Act” is not implemented if he becomes the President.
Thackeray’s party had initially backed Sinha, after it was present in both the Opposition meets convened by Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawar in Delhi and Mumbai respectively.
However, after the party split into two, with Eknath Shinde as the leader of the other half, many MPs within the Thackeray-led faction had urged the former Maharashtra CM to support Murmu and join hands with their old ally BJP. While heeding to their advice, Thackeray on Tuesday said, “Shiv Sena MPs did not put any pressure on me but they requested. Listening to their suggestion, we are going to support Droupadi Murmu for President.”
Thackeray, while declaring the party’s support for Murmu also said that “going by the present political atmosphere, I should not have backed her, but we are not narrow-minded.” After the collapse of his government last month, Thackeray had lost the support of 40 of 55 MLAs from his party. With many MPs threatening to leave the party, the move to back Murmu was seen as a way to address the internal divide within Shiv Sena.
Claiming that the Centre is using its agencies to “break” the opposition ahead of the Presidential elections, Sinha said that it was “all about the misuse of the Enforcement Directorate… By using agencies, they are pulling down elected governments”.
Despite many regional parties like BJD, JMM and YSR Congress choosing to back Murmu, Sinha has still not given up hope. “The Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee are totally supporting me. The Aam Admi Party will open its cards soon, I am aware of it. Only one party in the opposition camp is supporting the NDA candidate — that is the Shiv Sena. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi was not part of the opposition meeting, but it is still supporting me, so we have a lot of opposition support,” said Sinha.
Meanwhile, Sinha, while interacting with opposition legislators in Assam, said that he will ensure that the CAA is not implemented if he is elected as the President. “Citizenship is a major issue for Assam, and the government wanted to bring in the Act across the country but have not been able to do so yet,” he said.
“Earlier, the government gave the excuse of COVID, but even now they have not been able to implement it because it is an Act foolishly drafted in a hurry,” he added. Sinha alleged that Constitution was in danger not from any outside force, but from those in power. “We have to safeguard it,” he added.