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Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said the presidential election tomorrow demands a "vote of conscience" as it represents a clash of ideas and conflict of disparate values.
She also described the electoral contest as the opposition's fight against a "narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision" while addressing a gathering of opposition parties here where its presidential and vice presidential nominees, Meira Kumar and Gopal Krishna Gandhi respectively, were formally introduced.
"We must have confidence in the values we believe in. This election represents a clash of ideas, a conflict of disparate values. The election demands a vote of conscience to preserve the India that the Mahatma and the illustrious generation of freedom fighters,joined by thousands upon the numbers of ordinary men and women, fought for," she said.
The UPA chairperson said the numbers may be stacked against them, 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," she said.
According to the text of her speech, she said, "We must stand more aware than ever of who we are, what we fought for in our Independence struggle and what future we want for ourselves."
She said the presence of representatives from different parties to support Kumar and Gopal Gandhi confirms that "the fight for an inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic India is being truly waged".
The vice presidential poll will be held on August 5.
The JD(U), which skipped the all-party meeting convened by the government this morning, stayed away from the opposition event too.
"We know Meira Kumar as the former speaker. But many had not met Gopal Gandhi. It was a sort of formal introduction with them," said CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury.
Gandhi said Kumar and Gopal Gandhi have, with tremendous dignity and commitment, distinguished themselves throughout their long careers. "Through their work and theirlives they have also advocated those very values and principles that have defined and guided India for the last 70 years," she told the gathering.