New Delhi: UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee today filed his nomination papers for Presidential elections and reached out to Trinamool Congress and other parties seeking their support for the July 19 poll, which he appears set to win with a “thumping majority”.
Flanked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and other leaders, Mukherjee handed over his nomination papers to VK Agnihotri, Rajya Sabha Secretary General and Returning Officer for the Presidential elections.Dressed in a cream coloured ‘bandhgala’, 77-year-old Mukherjee appeared to be high spirits after filing his nomination. As the lensmen vied with each other to click pictures of the veteran leader, he obliged by climbing on the footboard of his car and waved his hand.
Soon after completing the nomination process, Mukherjee thanked parties like SP, BSP, JD(U), CPI-M, Shiv Sena and Forward Bloc for reposing faith in him and reached out to Trinamool Congress, the only UPA ally which has so far not supported his candidature.
“I seek the support of all those including Trinmaool Congress, who have not yet decided…I only wish at this time that let me have the blessings of God and cooperation of all at this juncture”, Mukherjee said.
He said he will start his campaign on 30 June and it will continue till 15 July.
Reflecting the enthusiasm in UPA over the support for Mukherjee’s candidature, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said,”he (Pranab) will get votes beyond anyone’s imagination. It is a one-sided affair. He will get a thumping majority”.
The support announced by political parties to Mukherjee’s candidature so far make it clear that he was likely to get over seven lakh votes in the electoral college of 10.98 lakh. The UPA candidate is expected to visit Kolkata either on 7 July or 8 July during which he is likely to meet Banerjee.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid expressed hope that Banerjee will finally support Mukherjee’s candidature and said,”one should always be optimistic in politics”.
The first set of nomination papers was submitted by the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi. The second set was submitted by senior Congress leader Motilal Vora, while Mukherjee submitted the other two of the total four sets.
The nomination papers were signed by as many as 486 MPs and MLAs, including Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Congress Legislature Party leaders and PCC chiefs.
In a show of strength, UPA top brass including Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, AK Antony, Vora and leaders of allies and other parties like Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan, TR Baalu, Satish Chandra Mishra, Farooq Abdullah and as many as eight Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states were present.
Mukherjee expressed his gratitude to the parties that supported him.
“UPA’s nominee was endorsed by a large number political parties—parties like RJD, SP, BSP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, who are supporting the UPA. But we have also received the support from other parties like Shiv Sena, JD-U, CPI-M and FB. I am deeply grateful to all of them. I appreciate deeply the
support which was extended to my candidature by others who are not part of the part of UPA,” Mukherjee said.
“Those, who have already taken the decision to oppose me have every right to do so in a democracy,” he said.
He also thanked the UPA Chairperson for suggesting his name for the 14th Presidential election.
“I am extremely honoured and feel humbled to get the opportunity to join the rank of those great stalwarts, who built modern India, gave an excellent Constitution and a multi-party democracy,” Mukherjee said.
The UPA nominee said he will begin his campaign from 30 June from Chennai. He will visit Hyderabad and Bangalore the next day.