"Sanctity of constitutional process being destroyed by interested parties”
NEW DELHI: The United Progressive Alliance and Left parties on Tuesday condemned the “smear” campaign against their Presidential candidate Pratibha Patil.
“Unfortunately, the very sanctity of the constitutional process is being destroyed by interested parties through resort to a smear campaign based on frivolous and unfounded allegations against the candidate of the UPA, supported by the Left, BSP and other parties. We strongly condemn the nature and tenor of the current campaign which cannot but dilute the norms that must form part of our political process, being a mature democracy,” a joint statement issued by leaders at a press conference said.
The signatories to the statement included Pranab Mukherjee (Congress), Lalu Prasad (Rashtriya Janata Dal), T.R. Baalu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), E. Ahamed (Indian Union Muslim League), Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxist), Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Jan Shakti Party) and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI). The statement said Presidential election was an important event. Members of Parliament and legislatures, who comprised the electoral college, were fully aware of the nature of the office and their responsibility in exercising their franchise.
They should rise above narrow considerations, uphold the dignity of the electoral process and vote for Ms. Patil, it said.
Mr. Mukherjee took objection to Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani’s observations at that party’s national executive.
Mr. Advani owed an explanation to the nation as to what he meant by saying that there were “major issues” in the election. “What are the major issues? Is there any scope for an executive President in the scheme of our Constitution? The Leader of the Opposition owes an explanation to the nation.”
He also took exception to Mr. Advani’s statement that Congress president Sonia Gandhi devalued the Prime Minister’s Office by handpicking Manmohan Singh. Dr. Singh was unanimously elected by the ruling parties and was not an unknown person in politics.
“He had a successful innings as Finance Minister, discharged responsibilities as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and is conducting himself in the most elegant manner as Prime Minister, of which many of us are proud of.”
Asked whether Mr. Shekhawat should step down, he said he would not like to comment.
“There are certain issues on which individuals have to take a decision at an appropriate time.”
Mr. Lalu Prasad said the UPA did not consider Mr. Shekhawat an independent candidate. He asserted that Ms. Patil’s victory was a foregone conclusion and accused the BJP of “demeaning a woman.”