General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said India’s identity as a secular country was under threat and appealed to all non-NDA parties to unitedly choose a candidate who can undertake “secular supervision” at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“President of India is the custodian of the Constitution and he needs to have commitment towards secularism. Our appeal to all non-NDA parties is to unite and field a candidate for the presidential elections who can undertake secular supervision at the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” he said at the sidelines of a programme in Bhubaneshwar.
“People are now out to decide what one will eat, what one will wear and even with whom to roam. This is an attack on the individual rights of a person,” he said. So, India’s identity as a secular democratic republic is under threat, the Rajya Sabha member said.
Yechury, who is on a two-day visit to Odisha, said he has been talking to all secular parties urging them to “unite and select an effective person for the highest post of the country as the very basics of Indian Constitution were under attack.”
To a question on which parties agreed on fielding a common candidate, the Left leader said, “Congress, NCP, JD(U) and all other like minded parties have similar view point.”
On being asked about the response of NDA allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, he said, “We are in the process of talking to them. We are consulting others at this stage,” he said.
“Once we come to an understanding, we will zero in on a person. There is nothing secret about it. You will come to know about it,” Yechury said. He said that he had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and NCP president Sharad Pawar in this regard, and would meet BJD chief Naveen Patnaik on Friday.
“As BJD is a secular party, I am sure Naveen Patnaik and his party will be positive about it and support a secular candidate for the president’s post,” Yechury said. JD(U) leaders Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav had met Patnaik in March and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banejree called on him in April.
However, all the leaders had said that they did not discuss Presidential elections. Patnaik has all along maintained that his party will decide on the presidential elections only after seeing the nominations.