Come clean on charges, Congress tells Shekhawat


New Delhi : In a counter-attack, the ruling Congress Friday asked Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is fighting the presidential poll as an independent backed by the opposition, to come clean on the "serious allegations" in the media against him.

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Criticising Shekhawat's past, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: "When people were giving up their jobs and plunging into the freedom movement in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India call of 1942, Shekhawat joined the police force (British) at that time."

Singhvi was referring to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s claims that Shekhawat had had a commendable tenure in police from 1942.

Taking a dig at the BJP's spirited campaign against the ruling alliance nominee Pratibha Patil, Singhvi said: "Those who live in glass houses should think twice before throwing stones."

Some media reports, quoting Congress sources, had alleged Shekhawat while he was the chief minister of Rajasthan had helped his son and son-in-law to avoid being prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly having forged documents to get land. Reports also said he had misled the Rajasthan state assembly by stating that the CBI had cleared them of the charges.

Singhvi, however, maintained that the Congress party had not levelled any charges against Shekhawat.

The BJP-led opposition has been running a campaign against Patil accusing her of financial improprieties with regard to a bank founded by her and sugar factory owned by her family in the seventies. Patil, backed by United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Left and the Bahujan Samaj Party, has also been accused of shielding her brother in a murder case.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described Patil as an "outstanding woman" and refuted charges against her.