Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s election managers will petition the Election Commission seeking disqualification of UPA nominee Pratibha Patil on grounds that “undue influence” is being exerted upon members of the Electoral College in her favour.
Congress spokesman Abhishekh Manu Singhvi has unwittingly scored a “self goal” and is now “entrapped in his own falsehood” after spreading the “blatant lie” that a petition seeking disqualification of Shekhawat’s prime proposer Natwar Singh had been pending in the office of the Vice President since May last, Shekhawat’s election manager Sushma Swaraj said.
The fact is that the first and only petition of this sort was submitted to the Rajya Sabha secretariat a full 24 hours after Shekhawat had filed his nomination papers as the presidential candidate on June 25, Swaraj said.
According to her, the timing of the Congress petition against Natwar Singh is significant. In the current scenario and at this juncture, the move is ostensibly aimed at forcing Natwar Singh into submission and sending out warning signals to other members of the Electoral College, while embarrassing Shekhawat also, she said.
Seeking to invoke Clause 18 of the President and Vice President Election Act, 1952 – the petition on Shekhawat’s behalf is likely to be submitted with the Election Commission on Friday. Clause 18 states, “if a candidate is found to indulge in bribery or in the exercise of undue influence, his/her candidature will be declared null and void”.
Charging Singhvi of spreading canards “in a fit of desperation”, Swaraj emphasized that there did not arise the question of the Congress petition against Natwar Singh being returned, as no such petition had been submitted. “I say this with entire responsibility and after ascertaining facts from the Rajya Sabha secretariat”, she asserted.
Responding to CPI (M) leader Prakash Karath’s charge that Shekhawat was being dishonest by stating that he was not a BJP nominee, Swaraj said the facts spoke for themselves: “He resigned from the BJP when he became the Vice President”.