United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday filed his nomination for the July 19 presidential poll and sought the "blessing of god and cooperation of all" to get elected to the country's highest office.
In what was turned into a show of strength, leaders of most UPA allies, except for the Trinamool Congress, were present.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RSD) Lalu Prasad were amongst those who witnessed the ceremony.
"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," Mukherjee told reporters at the Parliament House.
"I only wish at this time that let me have the blessings of God and cooperation of all at this juncture," he said.
As a candidate for the 14th presidential election, he said he was being supported by a "large number of parties who are supporting UPA government like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party" as well as by other parties who did not support the government.
Listing the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Shiv Sena, he said: "I am grateful to them as they have reposed faith in me to occupy the office which was occupied in past by great stalwarts of this country.”
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 also amongst other leaders present on the occasion.
Cabinet ministers P Chidambaram and Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is Mukherjee's election agent, were also present.
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 followed by Defence Minister AK Antony. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati have also signed the nomination papers.
As a matter of abundant precaution, each set of nomination papers have 60 proposers and 60 seconders against 50 proposers and 50 seconders as required under election rules.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, RLD 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.
As expected, UPA ally Trinamool Congress, which has decided not to back Mukherjee, was not rpesent.
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.
Opposition candidate PA Sangma, who is supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal, is expected to file his nomination in the afternoon.
The filing of nominations marks the formal start of the race for presidency, in which Mukherjee appears to have a clear edge over Sangma.
The scrutiny of the nominations will be done on July 2, the last date for withdrawal is July 4, the poll will take place July 19 and counting of votes will be on July 22.Pranab for President
| Pranab files nomination
(With PTI and IANS inputs)