Indian presidential race begins today
The race for India's presidency begins today as UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, and opposition BJP-backed PA Sangma submit their nomination papers amid clear signs that the ruling alliance will win with a thumping majority.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to support Pranab in the race. She instead tried her best to mobilise support for former president APJ Abdul Kalam for a second term at Rashtrapati Bhawan. It is said that Mamata was not happy with Pranab's role as finance minister.
"We would have been happy if all parties had supported Mukherjee and got him elected unopposed," Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram yesterday told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, adding it had become clear that Pranab had about 65 percent support, which was expected to go up to 70 percent.
But a unanimous vote would have been the "right thing", he added.
Pranab, aged 77, will submit his papers at 11:00am today in the presence of the top brass of the United Progressive Alliance, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and alliance Chairperson and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Except for Trinamool Congress, leaders of all UPA constituents are expected to be present on the occasion, including Sharad Pawar (NCP), T R Baalu (DMK), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and E Ahmed (IUML), in a move to project a united face of the ruling alliance.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies Janata Dal (United) (JDU) and Shiv Sena and two of the four left parties have also decided to support Pranab.
However, as to when 64-year-old Sangma will submit his papers has not yet been revealed by his office. He is likely to be accompanied by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and senior lawmakers from All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Sangma camp hopes to get at least 35 percent support.