In a show of strength, UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday seemed to have a clear edge over NDA nominee PA Sangma in terms of allies turning up in his support.
While filing his nomination papers for the for the election of country's 13th President, Mukherjee was accompanied by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RSD) Lalu Prasad amongst others.
Mukherjee also has the support of NDA allies Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Shiv Sena as well as the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh, Lok Janshakti Party's Ram Vilas Paswan, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, Indian Union Muslim League's E Ahmed and senior DMK leader TR Baalu were amongst the other leaders present on the occasion.
"I only wish at this time that we have the blessing of god and cooperation of all at this juncture," Mukherjee told reporters after filing his nomination at the Rajya Sabha secretariat.
Sangma, who slammed the Congress for not supporting a tribal candidate, was seen with Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and party leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were amongst.
"Today is a victory of tribal unity, that a tribal is filing his nomination for the post of president," Sangma told reporters ahead of submitting his papers to Rajya Sabha secretary general VK Agnihotri, the returning officer for the election.
Interestingly, Congress MP Arvind Netam was with Sangma during the filing of his nomination. Netam is the chief of Tribal Forum of India which is backing Sangma in the preisdential election.
However, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is yet to declare her support.
The filing of nominations marks the formal start of the race for presidency, in which Mukherjee appears to have a clear edge over Sangma.