Home India Politics Congress, CPI-M target Shekhawat over Natwar

Congress, CPI-M target Shekhawat over Natwar


New Delhi : Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, contesting the presidential election as an independent candidate, Tuesday came under strong attack from the Congress and the Left after Congress leader K. Natwar Singh proposed his nomination.

The vice president was guilty of the "grossest conflict of interest" in allowing Natwar Singh to propose his nomination Monday, the Congress said.

The Congress pointed out it had sought the former external affairs minister's disqualification from the Rajya Sabha as far back as in May and that Shekhawat himself was the competent authority to decide on it in his capacity as chairman of the upper house of parliament.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters that the Congress chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, V. Narayansamy, had petitioned the chairman in May this year seeking Natwar Singh's disqualification because he had campaigned for the rival Samajwadi Party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

"During the last session (of parliament), Narayansamy had discussed and deliberated this issue with the chairman for over half-an-hour, emphasising the need for an early ruling. So the vice president is fully aware of the Congress petition.

"On another occasion when Natwar Singh wanted time to speak on the Indo-US nuclear deal and the Congress opposed it, the chairman gave the ruling that since the petition about his status is pending, he cannot be allowed to speak," said the Congress spokesman.

"In spite of knowing fully well the fact, Natwar Singh has been made the principal proposer. This is the grossest conflict of interest. It is improper, it is immoral – though we are not surprised. The only objective of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) is to insult, to vilify and to denigrate the office of the president of India."

Singhvi also disclosed later that the petition against Natwar Singh was returned sometime ago by the chairman's office for some technical anomalies and has now been resubmitted for early adjudication.

In a related move, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat questioned Shekhawat's description of himself as an independent non-party candidate.

Replying to a question at the conclusion of the three-day meet of the party's Central Committee, he said: "A person with a life-long association with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) presents himself as an independent non-political candidate. We want the presidential candidate to stand up and state, 'this is what I stand for.'

"His government (in Rajasthan)) was dismissed in 1992 for connivance in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Such a person cannot call himself non-partisan and independent," Karat said.