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30 June, 2007

Sushma seeks EC action against Congress, Pratibha

For exerting "undue influence" on voters in Presidential polls
The Hindu
NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj filed a complaint with the Election Commission on Friday seeking "appropriate legal action" against the Congress and United Progressive Alliance candidate Pratibha Patil for exerting "undue influence" on voters in the Presidential polls.
     "This is an open and shut case, "Ms. Swaraj later said, adding that "appropriate action could be anything from giving directions to the Congress Party to cancelling Ms. Patil's nomination papers."
     In the complaint filed as a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) spokesperson, Ms. Swaraj alleged that by seeking the disqualification of former Congress Minister and an elector, Natwar Singh, from the Rajya Sabha, the Congress - with the consent of Ms. Patil - sought to exert "undue influence" not only on Mr. Singh but on all electors if they did not vote for the Congress candidate and supported Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is backed by the NDA.
     The petition said that the consent of Ms. Patil was "implicit and implied" in that the disqualification petition was filed on behalf of the Congress of which she continues to be a member. ...
     ... Speaking to media persons Ms. Swaraj said their complaint was filed under Section 18(2) of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952.
     She said the action against Mr. Singh was for his campaign for the Samajwadi Party in the Uttar Pradesh elections held in April but it was taken within a day of his signing Mr. Shekhawat's nomination papers on June 25.
     Asked if the action was not merely an internal matter between the Congress and its member, she claimed that it would have been so had it been before June 25 and after July 19, the voting day. When reminded that there was no legal bar on a party taking action against its members while the Presidential election process was on, she said "not if it was meant to exert undue influence".
     On the BJP's attack on its ally, the Shiv Sena, for supporting Ms. Patil, she said "undue influence can be on individual elector and not on a party."
     Ms. Swaraj said the Election Commission's recommendation to the President for disqualification of BJP MP Krishna Murari Mughe under the Office of Profit Act "should have been after July 19, not in the midst of the Presidential election".