A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dismissed as "mudslinging" allegations of financial irregularities against the UPA Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, Leader of Opposition LK Advani refuted charges of the BJP being behind any smear campaign.
"We have not levelled any charges. The allegations drew strength from the RBI reports, high court rulings and media investigations," Advani said in Jabalpur. Stating that his party did not generate these charges, Advani asked the Congress-led alliance to reconsider her candidature.
The BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad posed questions to the Prime Minister, saying that it was the RBI that had "condemned" the entire working of Patil's Mahila Sahakari Bank in its 2003 report.
"Manmohan Singh has been a former governor of the RBI and the finance minister. Should a legitimate question emanating from such a report be called mudslinging?" Prasad asked.
Asked why BJP was speaking out now when it had not objected to her appointment as governor of BJP-ruled Rajasthan, he said "These stark facts did not come in public domain then. But there is no embargo not to raise them now when they are there in the public domain."
Meanwhile, NDA-backed independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's spokesperson Sushma Swaraj objected to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi's criticism of Advani's call to build pressure on the MPs and MLAs to vote for him.
She said the minister should remember that Advani's appeal was no different from the one issued by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in the favour of Zakir Hussain in 1967.
Similarly, she added, Marxist leader Jyoti Basu had made similar appeal for Left nominee Capt Lakshmi Sahgal in the 2002 poll against NDA candidate, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
"Either Dasmunsi suffers from memory loss or he has no sense of history," Swaraj remarked, as she circulated copies of Indira Gandhi's appeal for Hussain and Basu's statement in CPI(M)'s mouthpiece for Sahgal.
She said the NDA would file a complaint with the Election Commission against the Congress for using undue influence on voters in the elections by moving to disqualify Shekhawat's proposer, Natwar Singh. "I am not expecting Patil to withdraw… I don't think she will withdraw," Swaraj said in reply to a query.