Congress resorting to pressure tactics in presidential poll: NDA


New Delhi : The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Friday filed a complaint with the Election Commission accusing the Congress of using "pressure tactics" to get support for its presidential candidate Pratibha Patil for the July 19 election.

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The NDA urged the Election Commission to take "appropriate action" against the Congress, accusing it of using "undue influence" on voters.

It alleged that the Congress' petition for disqualification of former external affairs minister Natwar Singh as Rajya Sabha member showed that it was using pressure to secure support for Patil because Singh was one of the proposers for Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's candidature.

NDA spokesperson Sushma Swaraj, who led the delegation to the Election Commission, told reporters that the Congress claim that it was its second petition for Singh's disqualification as Rajya Sabha member was "false".

Brushing aside the Congress' claim that it had filed a similar petition in May, Swaraj said that no such petition had been filed with the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

"Such a claim was just meant to hide their fault and to put Shekhawat in the dock on a false conflict-of-interest plea."

Swaraj said the Uttar Pradesh elections were over in May and parliament was in session till May 18 when Natwar Singh sat on the Congress benches. "The timing of the petition is important. It was filed within 24 hours of Singh signing the nomination papers of Shekhawat with the clear intention of exerting undue influence on other members," she said, adding that it was an offence under the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election Act of 1952.

"We have sought appropriate action from the Election Commission."

Swaraj said the disqualification plea had come barely a day after the former union minister proposed Shekhawat's candidacy.

Swaraj along with her party colleague Vijay Kumar Malhotra submitted the complaint to Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla, whom their party accuses of links with the Congress.

The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswamy and the other Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi were not present.