UPA’s candidate Pranab Mukherjee, filed his nomination papers for the post of the 13th President of India today, PA Sangma officially made it a contest by filing his papers as the Opposition’s candidate.
The former Speaker chose to file his nomination at precisely 2.31 pm, possibly a propitious time. Mr Sangma, however, is likely to need more than astral help to win this election – the numbers are loaded in favour of Mr Mukherjee who has the avowed support of about 56 per cent of the electoral college that elects the President. Mr Sangma nevertheless looked relaxed as he did his paperwork flanked by the BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal and a veritable who’s who from the BJP, including LK Advani and party president Nitin Gadkari who sat close to their candidate.
Mr Sangma has hinted that he might win over Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee yet.
Mr Sangma is also supported by Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa and her AIADMK. She sent a representative.
Mr Mukherjee’s show of strength earlier in the day was no less spectacular. Seated next to Mr Mukherjee as he signed his nomination papers were Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi. UPA allies, friends like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav and senior Congressmen made up the rest of the party.
Mrs Gandhi signed the register, Mr Mukherjee many papers, which were then scrutinised by the returning officer. There are 480 important signatures on his four sets of nomination papers. Notably, Janata Dal(United) chief Sharad Yadav is the first signatory on one set; Mr Yadav’s party is an important part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).