NDA-backed independent nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat fished out a discharge certificate that was issued to him when he quit Rajasthan police in 1948 to show that he had not quit the force as an assistant sub-inspector in dishonour.
Also, Shekhawat decided he would not travel or use official phones till the Presidential election on July 19. Though he could fly private planes to campaign, he did not want any state government to accord him the Vice President’s protocol.
A day earlier, the Congress had released guidelines from the Election Commission that the Vice President could not use official aircraft for his campaign.
Shekhawat’s spokesperson Sushma Swaraj read out the “exemplary” character certificate given by N P Tripathi, Superintendent of Police, Sikkar, which said he had worked hard to combat crime in the area where he was posted and was good at “digging out” details to check criminals.
“You do not get an exemplary certificate if you are dismissed,” Swaraj said, adding that Shekhawat found it necessary to come out with the details because Congress spokesperson Abishek Singhvi raised questions in a TV interview about his exit from police 59 years ago.
Seeing the allegations concerning his family and himself as a campaign by the Congress to counter the allegations against UPA nominee Pratibha Patil, Swaraj said Shekhawat joined the police on May 11, 1942 as a probationary assistant sub-inspector.
He was confirmed in the post on October 12, 1943. Later, he quit the force on October 20, 1948 when he decided to enter politics to contest a council election. Since then he had not looked back.
Swaraj said Shekhawat did withdraw cases against him after he became Rajasthan's chief minister in 1977, but said his action was part of a nationwide movement to undo the ills of Emergency.
She cited the Baroda dynamite case against George Fernandes and others, which was withdrawn after the Janata Party came to power. The Supreme Court upheld withdrawal of the Emergency cases.
Swaraj said Shekhawat was jailed during the Emergency. He was booked under the Essential Commodities Act because he had refused to hand over produce from his land as levy as part of a non-cooperation movement he had launched then while being in jail.
Swaraj also cited how the country's two news agencies, merged during that period, were restored to their original status.