Instead of putting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the mat for the death of 21 women and a child in Sunday's stampede, the Congress prefers that the election in his Lucknow Lok Sabha Constituency be countermanded for 'violating the spirit of law' by distributing sarees among poor women.
Vajpayee is seeking re-election from the seat. The deaths occurred during a stampede, which broke out when sarees were being distributed as part of the birthday celebrations of his confidant, Lalji Tandon.
Party spokesman Kapil Sibal on Friday welcomed the Election Commission order directing the Uttar Pradesh government to register a bribery case against Tandon.
Stating that the deaths in the Prime Minister's constituency was a 'black mark', he said distribution of sarees by Tandon was a case of bribery for which he could be imprisoned for one year.
The election could be countermanded if it was proved that a person close to the candidate, in this case Vajpayee, has committed an offence under the Representation of the People Act.
Sibal accused Tandon of indirectly seeking political favour by 'luring' poor women through distribution of sarees.
Meanwhile, Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party has sought to dissociate itself from the saree distribution episode saying it was not a party function.
"The BJP wants to make it categorically clear that this was not a function organised by the party. It was a function organised by some individual to celebrate the local MLA Lalji Tandon's birthday as has been done on earlier occasions in the past," Union Law Minister and party spokesman Arun Jaitley told reporters in Delhi."A similar celebration by the same people had been organised every year in the same format. The function is related to Tandon's birthday and not to the general elections," he told PTI.