‘I realise the pluses and minuses (of contesting), but I am not a sacrificial animal’

ID

In this Idea Exchange, NDA's Vice-Presidential nominee Jaswant Singh says the constitutional offices of President and Vice-President have become "victims of the political system". This session was moderated by Contributing Editor Coomi Kapoor

Coomi Kapoor: Do you think you are in a race where you have very little chance of winning, where the numbers are stacked against you?

Jaswant Singh: Someone had earlier asked me the same question. I had said that in vernacular, I would be termed an 'umeedwaar'. And I have been termed an umeedwaar because I have 'umeed', otherwise not.

Maneesh Chhibber: Some would also say that since nobody else wanted to contest, you might be, in the vernacular, the 'bali ka bakra'. How much of a chance do you give yourself?

Jaswant Singh: It is the beginning of the campaign. Of course, I realise what the pluses and minuses are, but I am not a sacrificial animal. It is necessary that some new and important questions relating to the election to these two high offices—of the President and the Vice-President—of the republic be raised and at least attempted to be answered.

Coomi Kapoor: How did Hamid Ansari conduct himself as Vice-President?

Jaswant Singh: Mr Ansari and I worked together in the Ministry of External Affairs in different capacities. Mr Ansari was the ambassador in Saudi Arabia. So I have known him. But as for the discharge of his responsibilities as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Vice-President, I'm sorry, I would desist from commenting.

Maneesh Chhibber: How did your name come to be finalised for this post? The party was dithering till the very end.

Jaswant Singh: No, I don't think there was any dithering in the party. It was Shri L K Advani who raised this topic with me, quite a few months ago, and asked if I would consider contesting for either of these two positions. I didn't take it seriously then. He repeated this two-three times. One day, I sat with him and discussed it. It was only after due deliberations with him that he advised I consider it seriously. I reflected on it. But by then, Mr Sangma had thrown his hat into the ring. And then it was fairly known that I would be required to contest the vice-presidential elections.

... contd.

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