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PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Congress leaves no stone unturned

Friday 6 July 2007

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Congress is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that all its voters cast their vote in the Presidential election on July 19. Finding some of its legislators undergoing medical treatment in hospitals outside their States, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi on Thursday met the Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami to address this issue.

Talking to reporters later, Mr. Dasmunsi said the Election Commission clarified that such legislators could vote in the Assembly of the State where they are undergoing treatment, provided prior permission was obtained from the Returning Officer.

In the case of Members of Parliament, they have the option of voting either in Parliament House or the Assemblies. Again, if they are to vote in an Assembly, the Returning Officer has to be informed.

As for the members of Parliament/Legislative Assembly lodged in prison, they should seek the court’s permission to come out on parole to vote in the Assembly where they are based.

By a rough count, there are five MPs in prison and four of them owe allegiance to parties which have pledged support for UPA-Left parties’ candidate Pratibha Patil.

The Congress said it was “highly regrettable” that the Bharatiya Janata Party had not stopped denigrating the electoral process and the high office of President.

It is most unfortunate that there seems to be a clear division of labour between various functionaries of the BJP, the NDA and the Independent candidate whom we hold in esteem. The BJP is seeking to convert the presidential campaign into a public trial and is thus making baseless allegations on a daily basis,” senior party leader Devendra Dwivedi said.

He said the BJP was resorting to “distortions, half truths and innuendos” and trying to make [a] farce of the presidential election.

The BJP has donned a prosecutional role,” he said. Stating that it was “reprehensible and unbecoming” of a party which was in power for six years, he said the BJP tactics and tirades would weaken the institution of constitutional presidency.

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