It was literally a case of the gods proposing. Mohan Ramayani’s nomination papers for the presidential elections carried the names of the Ramayana’s central characters as proposers: Ram, Sita, Bharat, Shatrughan, Kaushalya, Kaikayee, Dashrath and even Hanuman, Sugreev and Vibhishan. But the resident of Datia, Madhya Pradesh, drew his own line by listing Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghnad as his seconders.
Likewise, Mathura’s SC Sharma claimed his proposers included Tantia Tope, Laxmi Bai, Chandrashekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi.
But Varanasi’s Narendra Nath Dubey ‘Adig’ could have a problem on his hands. Other than Pratibha Patil and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, he was the only one to give a certified copy of the electoral roll showing him as a voter, deposit Rs 15,000 and give a list of 50 proposers and 50 seconders. But the MLAs’ signatures on his form did not tally with the ones provided by the EC, raising the question of his action being a criminal offence.
If the BJP’s campaign against Patil has embittered the poll, its seriousness has been undermined by nominations filed by frivolous candidates, prompting Returning Officer PDT Achary to call for “suitable changes” in the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Act, 1952. “There is need to amend certain portions of the law which are not clear,” he said.
Of the 84 sets of nomination papers filed, 35 were rejected as they did not provide the certified copy of electoral roll. Of the 49 scrutinised on Monday, only six — filed by Patil and Shekhawat — were in order, making it a straight contest between the two.
Patil has a majority in the electoral college with the Congress securing the support of the UPA, Left, BSP and RLD. The Shiv Sena’s backing and Third Front’s abstention will boost her victory margin.
Patil and Shekhawat’s campaign styles are different. An unknown figure for many, the Congress plans to take Patil to state capitals where she will refute the charges against her. In Delhi, the plan is to counter these allegations through press statements and charges against the rival candidate.
Many in the Congress think she should not speak to the media to counter the charges. “If she does, that would make it like the US presidential elections,” said a party leader. Instead, UPA leaders will bat for her on Tuesday, and the Left thereafter, in dismissing the BJP’s allegations.
Shekhawat will camp in Delhi while his managers mobilise support among MPs and MLAs. Congress leaders point out the ECs guidelines, which prohibit use of government machinery and state the candidate or his supporting party will have to bear campaign expenses and that any minister accompanying the candidate will do so in their individual capacity.
``Shekhawat may be hampered by the protocol associated with the Vice President’s office,’’ said a leader.