NEW DELHI: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Narendra Modi government, saying the country cannot be hostage to those "who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision" as she called for conscience vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections.
Addressing a meeting here of several opposition parties on the eve of the presidential poll, she said the election represents "a clash of ideas" and "a conflict of disparate values" and the battle should be fought hard.
Opposition's presidential candidate Meira Kumar and vice-presidential candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi were present at the meeting. The vice-presidential election will take place on August 5. Both the elections take place through secret ballot and electors are not bound by any whip.
Sonia Gandhi said that presence of MPs from many parties confirmed that the fight for an inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic India is being truly waged.
Alluding to the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance having an edge in presidential and vice-presidential elections, she appealed for conscience vote.
"In these contests, the numbers may be against us. 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.
"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 that illustrious generation of freedom fighters, joined by thousands upon thousands of ordinary men and women, fought for," she said.
Stressing that parliamentarians must have confidence in the values they believe in, 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.
"The presence of so many of you from so many different parties to support our distinguished candidates confirms that the fight for an inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic India is being truly waged. It is a fight we will never give up," she said.
Meira Kumar and Gopalkrishna Gandhi will be the "best possible President and Vice-President to steer our society through the crisis that has beset our country today", she added.