The UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil on Saturday said efforts were being made to tarnish her image even as Chief Minister Mayawati defended her saying Patil had nothing to do with allegations being leveled against her family members.
Patil and Mayawati were addressing a joint meeting of Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal MPs and MLAs at Taj Residency in Lucknow late this evening. While Pratibha referred to attempts being made to tarnish her image Mayawati not only defended her but also declared that the contest for the president's post had turned into a fight between the secular and communal forces.
A meeting of legislators would be convened again on July 18, 2007 to educate the party leaders about niceties of voting, said Mayawati in the presence of Patil and senior Congress leaders. "Patil had nothing to the family members facing allegations," said Mayawati adding Patil had a clean record. Chief minister said she readily agreed to Patil's candidature when the Congress President Sonia Gandhi rang her to seek her consent. Mayawati promised that BSP legislators in other states too would vote for Patil.
Responding to chief minister's address Patil said she also went to the former's residence to felicitate the latter on assuming of chief minister. "We both have felicitated each other," said Patil adding, "I will continue to uphold high traditions of democracy and humbly serve the country despite efforts being made to tarnish my image." Patil also made a special reference to Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar as architect of Constitution and said she had to face a number of challenges during 45 years of her public life.
Patil's covered variety of issues promising equal share of development to all sections her address had a tinge of Lucknow's tehzib as well. She referred to Ganga Jamuni tehzib cultural heritage, Sufis and saints of state. Soon after reaching the state capital Patil went to Mayawati's residence and felicitated her on assuming of chief minister.