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Seeking conscience vote is legal: Sushma

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Campaign managers of the National Democratic Alliance-backed independent Presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat denied on Thursday that BJP leader L.K. Advani’s appeal for conscience vote was aimed at encouraging cross-voting.

At a press conference here, Mr. Shekhawat’s spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said there was nothing illegal, immoral or unconstitutional in both candidates seeking a conscience vote. “Tradition is that any candidate can seek the support of the entire electoral college in a legal manner. The term cross-voting is not relevant in the Presidential election because no whip can be issued.”

Referring to her charge that phones of Mr. Shekhawat’s chief strategists were being tapped, she said a committee under Arun Jaitley would look into the issue. “This panel would decide whether we should go to the Election Committee or take legal action.” She also took exception to “the unparliamentary language” used by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi in response to the charge.

“Tall leader”

On the statement of Women and Child Welfare Minister Renuka Chowdhury — she had asked “who she [Ms. Swaraj] was and why should she be taken notice of” — Ms. Swaraj said that after being a Cabinet Minister thrice and being Deputy Leader of the largest Opposition party, she could not match the “tall leader” that Ms. Chowdhury was. “A party with which we have a very narrow difference of seats [in the Lok Sabha] is asking us who we are.”

She said Mr. Shekhawat would declare his assets on Friday.

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