Dismissing again all charges against Pratibha Patil as "unsubstantiated", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate was the "right choice" and an "outstanding candidate".
Speaking to journalists of the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC) at his residence 7, Race Course Road, on Thursday afternoon, he said: "I am fully satisfied that there is no charge against Pratibha Patil which can be substantiated. We have made the right choice and chosen an outstanding candidate."
Addressing a group of about 40 women journalists, the prime minister, defending Patil's candidature, said: "She is by no means an unfavourable candidate compared to her predecessors."
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has charged Patil with financial bungling in a bank founded by her, swindling through a cooperative sugar mill linked to her, trying to shield her brother in a murder case and many other similar serious offences.
Asked about BJP leader LK Advani's attacks on the UPA candidate, Manmohan Singh said, "This is not healthy for cooperative democracy."
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is supporting Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who is contesting the presidential elections as an independent.
As for Shekhawat's claims of contesting as an independent in the face of his past links with the BJP, the prime minister said: "He has obviously clear links with the BJP."