Correspondent in Delhi
The Left Front on Friday nominated Colonel Lakshmi Sahgal as its candidate for the presidential election to be held on July 15.
This was announced by Communist Party of India -- Marxist general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Communist Party of India leader A B Bardhan, Abani Roy (Revolutionary Socialist Party) and S Deverajan (Forward Bloc) in New Delhi.
The leaders said former prime ministers H D Deva Gowda and V P Singh, who were out of station, have expressed full support to the candidature of Sahgal.
Col Sahgal has given her consent saying: 'as in the past, I am always willing to fight a political battle', the leaders quoted her as saying.
Surjeet and Bardhan criticised the Congress and the Samajwadi Party for changing their stands and 'rallying behind the BJP'.
Describing Col Sahgal as a symbol of Indian freedom movement who had dedicated her entire life for the betterment of the Indian people, CPI leader D Raja said her fight against communalism and for gender equality and human rights had no parallel.
"Now they (Congress and Samajwadi Party) should answer as to why they will not support Col Sahgal? How can they now justify their opposition to BJP policies after their support to that party's nominee," CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.
With her nomination for the presidential poll, Col Sahgal, who was honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 1998, becomes the first woman to contest these elections.
"We do not want the BJP to go unchallenged. We do not want to show to the people that there is no political force in the country that can take on the BJP," they said.
Col Sahgal led the Rani Jhansi regiment of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army.
Born in the year 1914, Col Sahgal, a medical doctor by profession, joined the INA in 1940 and was instrumental in setting up the medical wing of the INA. She was also a minister in the provisional government of the Azad Hind.
Interview with Col Lakshmi Sahgal
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