New Delhi : The Congress Tuesday sought the disqualification of former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh as Rajya Sabha member after he proposed the name of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, backed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), for the presidential election.
Congress leaders also said their move was an indirect attempt to embarrass Shekhawat as he is the competent authority to decide the disqualification issue in his capacity as chairman of the upper house of parliament.
"How can a Congress MP elected to the Rajya Sabha propose the name of an NDA backed candidate? It is a huge conflict of interest," a Congress leader told IANS.
Natwar Singh, suspended from the party in August last year for his involvement in Iraq's oil-for-food programme, was one of the proposers for Shekhawat's nomination and was prominently seated with NDA leaders at the time the vice president filed his papers.
In recent months, he has been openly critical of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and hobnobbing with opposition leaders, mainly from the Samajwadi Party.
The petition seeking Natwar Singh's disqualification was filed by Congress chief whip V. Narayanasamy on the ground that the former minister had campaigned for the Samajwadi Party in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and had therefore attracted the provisions of the anti-defection law.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Natwar Singh's campaign for the Samajwadi Party was seen on visual media and that construed sufficient evidence for him to be disqualified under the 10th Schedule of the constitution.
Terming the proposal of Shekhawat's candidature by Natwar Singh as an act of "grossest conflict of interest", Singhvi said it amounted to an insult and denigration of the constitutional office.
The Congress had filed for disqualification against Natwar Singh in May but it was returned citing "procedural deficiencies" and hence the fresh petition.
Singhvi also pointed out that Shekhawat had Natwar Singh as the "principal" proposer for his presidential candidature despite being "fully aware" of the disqualification proceedings initiated by the Congress against him.