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Sonia dinner for Pratibha supporters

india Updated: Jul 17, 2007 02:53 IST
Saroj Nagi and Shekhar Iyer
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A confident UPA-Left combine does not think a formal parliamentary party meeting of their MPs is needed to ensure votes for their nominee Pratibha Patil in the presidential election.

Instead, Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner on Tuesday for all MPs belonging to the UPA, the Left and other supporting parties, including the RLD and the BSP.

Patil will interact with the members at the dinner ahead of the July 19 vote.

Since the monsoon session of Parliament will begin only in August, a series of parliamentary standing committee meetings have been convened between July 16-18 to allow MPs to come to Delhi and cast their vote for the July 19 presidential election. Of the 18 standing committees, 14 will meet in this period.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Monday claimed the Election Commission has not received any declaration of assets by the Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi met Election Commissioner Navin Chawla for an authenticated copy of Shekhawat’s assets but was told nothing had reached Chawla or his senior officials so far.

Dasmunsi also hit out at Leader of Opposition LK Advani for trying to vitiate the poll process by appealing to MPs and MLAs to cast their vote against their party line.

“Advani has proved his unfitness to occupy the second most important post after the Prime Minister’s…. His conduct warrants censure,’’ said Congress spokesman Devendra Dwivedy.

The NDA too approached the Election Commission. Apparently prompted by some UNPA leaders, it wanted then EC to declare the Third Front's decision to abstain from the presidential election move as “unconstitutional.”

A section of UNPA leaders told the BJP-led Opposition alliance that they wanted their MPs and MLAs to vote for NDA-backed independent nominee, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, but did not want to lose the support of Muslims by backing a senior BJP leader.

NDA leaders met Chawla to convey that some MPs and MLAs were willing to cast their vote in the July 19 poll.

The six-page memorandum to Chawla said the EC should clarify that the MPs or MLAs were “entitled” to ignore directions from their parties on the presidential elections.