Stepping up its counter-offensive, the Congress on Monday said NDA-supported presidential nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was indulging in “gross constitutional and political improprieties” by seeking to occupy the highest post in the country on the “sole premise and solitary ground that he would be able to engineer defections on a mass scale from the UPA-Left-BSP combine”.
“The peculiar situation is that Vice-President Shekhawat, the designated competent authority to decide disqualification of members on grounds of defection, is pursuing the aim of 'victory through defections' as his basic campaign plank,” Congress spokesman Devendra Dwivedi said. Referring to Shekhawat’s presence at a recent meeting on poll strategy at A.B. Vajpyee’s residence, Dwivedi said he was the first constitutional functionary to indulge in “politicking of such a brazen sort”.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi picked holes in the NDA’s argument that Shekhawat was contesting as an independent, saying: “When a person holds a high constitutional position, he ceases to be a partyman. By arguing Shekhawat is an independent candidate, the BJP is indirectly saying he has been functioning as a partyman so far.”
Asked if the Congress demanded Shekhawat’s resignation as Vice-President, Dwivedi said the matter should be left to the former's conscience.