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RSS, BJP desperate: CPI (M)

Special Correspondent

Gowda laments parties’ attitude

NEW DELHI: The big guns of the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance on Sunday were silent on the Presidential race. However, other players strongly criticised the “unfounded allegations” made against front-runner Pratibha Patil and the “unseemly rounds of one-upmanship” without caring for the decorum and dignity of the country’s highest office.

As the NDA prepared for the filing of nomination papers by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat on Monday, the UPA’s election manager, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, was busy readying the second set of two nomination forms for Ms. Patil over the next couple of days. Two sets were filed on Saturday.

In a statement here, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, lamented the manner in which the UPA, the NDA and the Third Front conducted themselves to trifle with the highest constitutional post. The Presidential election ought to be a “celebration of our nationhood,” he said.

A consensus candidate should have been selected on the basis of trust and goodwill while avoiding speculation and “rounds of one-upmanship,” he said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said a “measure of desperation in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party camp” was forcing it to resort to “unfounded allegations” against Ms. Patil. That the “proactive slander machinery” of the RSS-BJP had sprung into action “was only natural.”

Mr. Yechury was talking to reporters during a break in the Polit Bureau meeting here.

Shekhawat, Pratibha ‘vulnerable’

Mr. Gowda expressed “reservations” over the “political background” of Mr. Shekhawat, but applauded his “dignity, stature and impartiality” as Rajya Sabha Chairman. However, because of the conduct of the UPA and the NDA, he felt that both Mr. Shekhawat and Ms. Patil, “whom Indians are proud of,” have become “vulnerable.”

Although his party, the Janata Dal (Secular), runs a coalition government with the BJP in Karnataka, he gave no indication which candidate his party would support.

On the Vice-Presidential poll, scheduled for August, Mr. Yechury said it was too early and discussions would begin later.

He said Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had made it clear that Ms. Patil’s name had not figured anywhere in the case of the murder of Rajni Patil’s husband. Her name also did not figure in the case pertaining to loan default by a sugar mill, he added.

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