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Prez poll: Centre debunks Sangma's proof against Pranab

New Delhi: Presidential candidate PA Sangma's team on Monday gave documents to the Election Commission to prove alleged lapses by rival candidate Pranab Mukherjee while filing papers for the 19 July poll. The government debunked it saying there was no merit in the plea.

Sangma, supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), last week demanded that Mukherjee's nomination be rejected as he was allegedly holding an office of profit as chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) when he filed his papers on 28 June. Mukherjee has refuted the charge.

Sangma, supported by the BJP, last week demanded that Mukherjee's nomination be rejected. Reuters

A set of 180 pages were given to the poll panel by Sangma's team. These included an opinion from a handwriting expert which said that the signature on Mukherjee's resignation letter from the Indian Statistical Institute seemed forged.

"On Saturday we had registered our complaint with the Election Commission. They asked for documents, so we submitted them," said Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy.

"In my opinion, Mukherjee should withdraw from the presidential poll on moral grounds and let Sangma win unopposed," he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the opposition parties should utilise their energies for a better purpose.

"They should utilise their energies for a better purpose...Pranab Mukherjee did not hold any office of profit on the day of his filing nomination," he told reporters.

Stating that Mukherjee would win by a big margin, he said the Congress had met party leaders both at the central and state level from 14 states in the past week to brief the state legislators on what needed to be done on the day of the presidential poll.

BJP's legal cell in-charge Satpal Jain, who has been acting as Sangma's lawyer, said the option of going to court over the issue was open.

"We are annexing findings of a forensic expert who has, after examination of the impunged signatures, opined inter alia that the signature dated 6 June seems to be different in comparison to signature dated 3 July," said the covering letter of the set of documents given by Team Sangma.

Sangma's team said that the option to approach the Supreme Court remained open but it would depend on the decision of the Election Commission.

"We will proceed step by step. The option of going to court remains open," Jain said.

They also sought an explanation on whether MGK Menon, president of the Kolkatabased ISI, was authorised to accept Mukherjee's resignation.

Swamy said that as far as he knew, only the council of the institute could have accepted Mukherjee's resignation.

He said that the response by returning officer for presidential poll VK Agnihorti did not deal with the charges forwarded by their team.

Mukherjee earlier presented his resignation letter dated 20 June which was accepted by the ISI. Subsequently, Sangma's request was rejected and Mukherjee's nomination accepted by the returning officer.

Sangma's team is mulling an election petition, a plea filed by any contestant if they feel malpractice has been involved. The petition is heard by the high court of the state after the election.

IANS