Congress leader CK Jaffer Sharief has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, backing RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as the President of India. Sharief said there is no doubt about the RSS leader’s "patriotism and commitment to the Constitution."
In his letter, written on 29 March, the former Railways minister wrote:
I personally feel that nobody should find fault with Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s name being considered as a choice for the Presidentship of our country.
He added that one should not make an issue by opposing Bhagwat's name for the President's post because he is a "patriot, wedded to democracy" and working for the welfare of the people.
Shiv Sena Also Backed Bhagwat for President
The Shiv Sena has recently suggested that Bhagwat be made the next President, but the Congress came out against the suggestion as the party "opposed the saffron ideology" and said it would come out with its own candidate after holding internal discussions.
To a question that his stance on Bhagwat may be at variance with that of the Congress, Sharief said over the phone that his support for Mohan Bhagwat is a matter of "principle".
Whoever becomes the President will have to function according to the Constitution. What is wrong if Bhagwat becomes the President and works according to the Constitution?
President Pranab Mukherjee's term is drawing to a close, and there has been speculation about Bhagwat's candidature for the top post. The RSS chief, however, had dismissed such reports.
“Bhagwat Is a Patriot, Wedded to Democracy”
Asserting that the RSS had supported former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the Bangladesh war, Sharief asked:
Why anyone should now become small and narrow-minded to say that we have no faith and confidence in an Indian who is a patriot and who is wedded to democracy and also working for the welfare of the people?
"I therefore, strongly feel that no one should make an issue unnecessarily by opposing the very consideration of Shri Bhagwat's name itself," he said further.
Sharief expressed hope that the political parties would also be "broad minded and large hearted" and do their best in living up to the expectations of the secular people of the country.
Minorities Should Not Fear Bhagwat: Sharief
He said minorities should not have any fear or crisis of confidence over Bhagwat's name being considered for the coveted post.
CK Jaffer Sharief As a Muslim and a person belonging to the minority community of India, I feel that the minorities should not have any fear or crisis of confidence in Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s name being considered.
"Bhagwat may belong to one school of thought but there should not be any doubt about his patriotism, love for the people of India, loyalty to the nation and commitment to the Constitution of India and to democracy," Sharief said.
He also backed Modi's suggestion for simultaneous elections for Parliament and Assemblies, saying different elections with different timings cause needless strain on the exchequer and hinder the progress of the country.