Prez poll: Mukherjee nomination accepted

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New Delhi: The attempt to scuttle Pranab Mukherjee`s Presidential bid failed today with the returning officer rejecting the objection of his opponent P A Sangma, who had raked up the issue of office of profit. With this, Mukherjee and Sangma, whose nomination papers were found to be in order this morning, will fight it out in a direct contest in the poll scheduled for July 19.

Rajya Sabha Secretary General V K Agnihotri, who is the returning officer for the election, accepted the arguments on behalf of Mukherjee that he had resigned the post of Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) on June 20, eight days before he filed his nomination. Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal, who appeared as Mukherjee`s representative along with Home Minister P Chidambaram before the returning officer, told reporters later that Agnihotri accepted the argument that the resignation was forwarded to the President of the institute.

The RO ruled in favour of Mukherjee and accepted his nomination papers, Bansal said. During scrutiny yesterday, Sangma had filed a petition demanding rejection of Mukherjee`s nomination contending that he suffered disqualification because he held an Office of Profit by remaining as the Chairman of the ISI at the time of filing of nominations. Sangma`s lawyer Satpal Jain had on Monday demanded that Mukherjee`s papers be cancelled at the scrutiny stage as he holds an office of profit.

Jain said that Mukherjee is chairperson of ISI and, hence, cannot contest the Presidential poll under the Office of Profit rules. Mukherjee was given time till today to reply to the complaint. The government had rejected Sangma`s claim, saying he had resigned from the post of ISI Chairman days before filing his nomination papers. Earlier today, the nomination papers of opposition-backed Sangma were accepted by the returning officer after scrutiny.

The nomination papers and related documents were in order and were accepted by Agnihotri, officials said. Some objections like anomalies in the list of proposers and seconders were raised by certain individuals against Sangma but these were rejected by the returning officer, they said. "He (Mukherjee) had resigned as Chairman, ISI, on June 20, a week before he filed his nomination (on June 28)," according to Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal.

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