Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday dismissed the BJP's allegations against UPA-Left's presidential nominee Pratibha Patil. "It is mud-slinging… she has done nothing wrong," he said at a book release function at his residence.
Reacting to critical comments that three of his ministers made against President APJ Abdul Kalam for saying he would opt for a second term if there is "certainty" of victory, Singh said: "we hold President Kalam in high esteem". He added the comments were made in a particular context. He also said he had explained the circumstances of the UPA's choice of presidential nominee to the President.
Congress leaders, meanwhile, singled out Leader of Opposition LK Advani for his "unsubstantiated, malicious, undignified and deplorable" campaign against Patil. Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Patil's election manager Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said Advani has not cited any strictures. "Patil did not face any inquiry, commission or stricture by any court," Dasmunsi claimed, suggesting that Advani had, in the Babri masjid demolition case.
As part of the strategy to counter the anti-Patil campaign, the Congress would field Patil to personally counter the allegations after the scrutiny of nominations on July 2.
Dasmunsi read "desperation" in Advani's anti-Patil rhetoric, in calling her "tainted" and "pliable". He also criticised him for trying to mount "public pressure" on MPs and MLAs. "In a presidential election you can talk about appeal, not pressure…. Such statements invite the Election Commission's attention to ensure the safety of the candidates," he said. "If he wants to take out a 'pressure building' yatra let him begin from my constitutency and take it to Maharashtra," he said, alluding to Shiv Sena's support for Patil.