New Delhi: Amid show of strength, UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee filed his nomination on Thursday for the July 19 Presidential elections setting off the race between UPA and the BJP-backed opposition candidate in which the ruling alliance is set for a runaway victory.

Hours later, BJP nominee and former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma also filed the nomination for the presidential poll accompanied by several senior party leaders including LK Advani.

Pranab:Gearing up for new role

Unfazed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee' absence, UPA utilised the occasion to project a united picture and its penetration into NDA.

Mukherjee filed his nomination papers at 11 AM in the presence of the top brass of UPA including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, alliance Chairperson and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Pranab handed over his nomination papers to Vivek Kumar Agnihotri, Rajya Sabha Secretary General and Returning Officer for the Presidential elections.

"I am grateful to them as they have reposed faith in me to occupy the office which was occupied in the past by great stalwarts of this country. "I only wish at this time that let me have the blessings of God and cooperation of all at this juncture," he told reporters at the Parliament House.

Four sets of nomination papers, signed by as many as 480 MPs and MLAs, including Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Congress Legislature Party leaders and PCC chiefs were submitted by Mukherjee.
    
Convenor of the opposition NDA and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav was the first signatory on one set of nomination papers while Defence Minister A K Antony. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati also signed the nomination papers.
       
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and union ministers such as P Chidambaram, Farooq Abdullah, Ajit Singh, E Ahamed, A K Antony, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Ashwini Kumar were present at the time of Mukherjee filing his nomination papers.

SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, NCP leader D P Tripathi were among others who witnessed the filing of nomination papers. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has been appointed as Mukherjee's authorised representative.

DADA'S RIVAL SANGMA FILES NOMINATION

After Pranab Mukherjee, BJP nominee PA Sangma also filed the nomination for the Presidential poll on Thursday at around 2:30 PM.

Accompanied by senior BJP leader LK Advani, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sangma filed his nomination papers at 2:31 pm in the Rajya Sabha Secretary General's office in the Parliament.

Three sets of papers were filed in support of Sangma. BJD chief Patnaik filed one set with 108 signatures in Sangma's favour, another set was filed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa with 120 signatures, while the third set was filed by Advani and Badal with 122 signatures of members of the electoral college. Jayalalithaa was represented by AIADMK MP M Thambidurai.

"I express my gratefulness to all political parties and leaders for their support. We shall undertake the campaign trail from day after tomorrow onwards...our support base is growing by the day," Sangma said after filing his nomination.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Goa CM Manohar Parikkar, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly V K Malhotra, his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje, and senior leaders of the BJP were present when Sangma filed his papers.

Political parties from the North-East region, including the Asom Gana Parishad, Mizo National Front, United Democratic Party of Meghalaya and others have extended support to Sangma.

(JPN/Agencies)

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