Many questions still unanswered
Does Pratibha Patil come to Rashtrapati Bhawan with a heavy baggage of unanswered questions on nepotism and financial irregularities?
Before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave her a clean chit on June 27 and then again on July 5 during his interaction with women journalists, he spent at least three hours studying the relevant documents, including the papers which were the basis of the BJP's.
In a sign that the Congress leaders were worried, Union Ministers PR Dasmunsi, Prithviraj Chavan, Suresh Pachauri and others were told to look for documents to disprove the allegations.
While the Congress was ready to vouch for Patil, it was skeptical of doing the same for her relatives. This included her brother GV Patil and husband Devisingh Shekhawat, who are accused of murder and driving a Jalgaon teacher to commit suicide.
Perhaps to underline this, Devisingh was not invited to the dinner Congress president Sonia Gandhi hosted on July 17 to introduce Patil to leaders and MPs of parties supporting her.
Nor did he accompany her to the state capitals during her campaign.
The BJP had accused Patil of financial irregularities in a cooperative bank, sugar mill and educational institution she founded in Jalgaon. In this backdrop, the Opposition's demand that Patil declare her list of assets and liabilities gained legitimacy, notwithstanding the PM's clean chit.
But the Congress resisted the pressure. And chose to counter-attack.
Not that the party was allowed to get away with it.
In press briefings, party spokespersons were repeatedly asked if they were not to be equally blamed for denigrating the president by not releasing the list of assets.
The presidential nominee was also not fielded to counter the charges. Barring a joint press conference of the Congress and its UPA allies, presided by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, no senior Congress Cabinet Minister batted for Patil.
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