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Shekhawat may declare his assets to corner Pratibha

Shekhawat may declare his assets to corner Pratibha Patil even though the EC has reject LK Advani’s plea for a direction to the candidates in this regard, reports Shekhar Iyer.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2007 10:27 PM IST

Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat may declare his assets to corner UPA Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil to do so even though the Election Commission has rejected LK Advani’s plea for a direction to the candidates in this regard.

Shekhawat’s aides said he was thinking of doing so as he felt that he had nothing to hide. The Vice-President, who is contesting the Presidential poll as an independent backed by the NDA, wanted to come out with all details as the Congress had mounted a personal offensive against him.

On Friday, Congress spokesperson Abhishekh Singhvi asked the Vice-President to come clean on "serious allegations" made against him and also wondered where was Shekhawat during the freedom struggle.

Shekhawat’s spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said he was likely to decide in a day or two following the EC’s view that it could not direct the candidates to declare their assets and liabilities – as sought by Advani – because the law concerning the election of the President did not provide for it.

The NDA thinks that once Shekhawat declares his assets, Patil too would be forced to come out with her details even as she finds the allegations against her family continuing to dominate the campaign.

BJP chief Rajnath Singh said the charges against the UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil had surfaced due to an "internal rift in the Congress" and sought "logical replies" from her.

Meanwhile, the NDA leaders are also hoping that they could persuade the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) to put up their candidate for the Vice-President’s election and seek their support in lieu of backing Shekhawat.

“We will meet soon to discuss the scenario since the EC has announced election for the VP’s post, which falls vacant on August 19,” said a NDA leader.

While the NDA leaders are aware that the Left too will woo the UNPA leaders for supporting the candidate it has in mind, they think that they will be able to convince the UNPA to put up their own candidate and take the NDA’s support.

Hitherto, the UNPA has ruled out support for Shekhawat who is understood to have personally spoken to TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa.

With Naidu expected to return around July 9, the NDA leaders say they will renew their efforts to get the UNPA’s backing for Shekhawat in return for the BJP-led Opposition alliance’s support for a UNPA Vice President.

SP general secretary Amar Singh called Jayalalithaa on Friday to hold discussions about the Vice-Presidential elections.

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