Presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s spokesperson Sushma Swaraj reacted to the UNPA’s decision to abstain from voting on Saturday, saying the decision had no legal sanctity. She urged the Election Commission to clarify if any political party could give such a direction to its MPs and MLAs.
The EC should clarify so that the MPs and MLAs do not suffer for exercising their democratic right of franchise, she said. The UNPA’s decision amounted to issuing a whip, she said, which was not permitted in these elections for these posts.
Swaraj asked the UNPA to revise its decision, but said the Third Front’s decision will not affect Shekhawat’s campaigning. The vice-president will would continue to seek support of individual MPs and MLAs, including those from the UNPA, through letters and on telephone.
Swaraj said the NDA had tried to convince the UNPA leaders that their decision would not help them defeat Patil who, AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha, had described as a “joke on the nation”.
The UNPA move was a big disappointment for the BJP leadership as it kills their last hope of putting up a respectable fight for Shekhawat. The UNPA has 1.06 lakh votes, which the party had hoped would be added to the 3.14 lakh committed BJP-NDA votes for Shekhawat. The UPA nominee, the Congress claimed has over 6.31 lakh votes of the 10.98 lakh votes of the electoral college.
A senior BJP leader admitted the situation has been made worse for them. After the presidental poll, the NDA would have to do some serious thinking on fielding a candidate for the forthcoming vice presidential election. Asked, Swaraj said the NDA leaders will decide on July 19, the day of the presidential poll.
Meanwhile, depending on the nominee it fields, the UNPA’s decision to contest for the Vice President’s post is aimed at driving a wedge in the line up built by the Congress for the President’s post after hard negotiations with the Left. But this time, the ruling party is trying to put the ball in the Left’s court.
“We will do to the Left what they did to us…we will vet every name they put up,’’ said a Congress leader.