A day before the election for the post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, the Congress today claimed the Opposition has a 'formidable and better candidate' in its three-time MP B K Hariprasad with numbers on his side and accused the government of using every tactic to swing the poll.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the NDA does not have the majority in Rajya Sabha, else the BJP would have fielded its own candidate. He accused the ruling coalition of going "well beyond" its fold to get the votes.
The ruling NDA has fielded Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh as its candidate and sources in the BJP said today he was expected to get the support of 126 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs.
Sharma accused the government and the BJP of using every tactic and influence of their authority and power to swing the election.
The opposition, he said, is unitedly contesting the election of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, to be held tomorrow, as it is not happy with the present state of affairs and the prevailing environment in the country.
"We have a formidable candidate, not the NDA. The BJP, if it had the majority, should have fielded its own candidate," he said.
"Neither the BJP had the numbers, nor the NDA, but when it comes to the two candidates, we have a better candidate," he claimed.
Sharma said the NDA lacks the majority even after fielding a candidate from the JD(U) and they are desperate to reach out to others outside the fold of the ruling alliance.
"I am making it very clear. The NDA as such did not have majority, does not have majority. They have gone well beyond the fold of the NDA to get votes," he said.
Hariprasad, who filed five seats of papers, said it is an honour for him to be the joint opposition candidate and said it would be a "good contest".
He thanked his party leadership as also the opposition leaders who signed his nomination papers and extended their support.
According to the BJP floor managers, Hariprasad may end up with about 111 votes. On the other hand, they expect Harivansh to get backing of 91 NDA members and a totally tally of 126 after taking into account three nominated ones and of certain non-NDA parties such as AIADMK, TRS, YSRCP, INLD and BJD.
Sharma said Hariprasad is a senior parliamentarian and various parties including the Samajwadi Party, the NCP, the BSP, the DMK, the CPI, the CPM, as also TMC, TDP have extended support and signed the nomination papers.
"But in a democracy, there has to be a contest and fielding a joint opposition candidate is the statement of the opposition, which is not happy with the present state of the affairs and the prevailing environment in the country and, therefore this contest has to be taken in that spirit," he said.
Sharma said their candidate is a formidable one who can conduct the proceedings and who understand the functioning of the House.
"It is not only the numbers that make the candidate formidable. We have the numbers. There will be a contest," he said.
The Congress leader said by convention the government and the opposition should have consulted, but this regime does not believe in the practice of consulting the opposition nor does it believe in a consensus.
"Its actions have been opposite to what is called the consensus building in national politics. The government merely announced its decision or informed the opposition, did not show that courtesy and respect of consulting the senior leaders with a very senior leaders in the opposition," he said.
Sharma said the opposition is doing what it is expected to in a democracy.
"We do not endorse policies of the NDA or the BJP. We are concerned about what is happening in our country and about the environment of fear, distrust, violence, intolerance and mob lynching. There is growing insecurity. Citizens do not feel protected.
"Citizens are not having a full enjoyment of their fundamental rights. At the same time, there are mounting difficulties. So the opposition makes a statement by its actions and decisions," he said.
Asked if it was a fitness test for the opposition unity, Sharma said in a democracy elections are meant to be contested.
"Do not pre-judge an election. Wait, otherwise the same thing can be extended even to the general elections. So if anybody says that why the opposition is contesting, is actually assaulting the very essence and spirit of democracy," he said.
Sharma said the numbers are tantalizing because even the NDA did not have the numbers that is why the Prime Minister has desperately reached out to those who are opposed to the BJP and the RSS and those who are not in the NDA fold.
He said the House has representatives of all major parties of the country, including the national and regional ones and everybody knows the composition of the NDA and composition of an united opposition.
"What we are doing, it is our collective expression. The opposition stands together on all fundamental issues and it is committed to defend collectively, resolutely the foundational values of our Constitution and the Republic," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)