Ansari files nomination papers for Vice Prez poll

New Delhi: UPA`s Vice Presidential candidate Hamid Ansari filed his nomination papers here today for the August seven poll in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and leaders of the ruling coalition.

75-year-old Ansari, who is set to become the second person to get two consecutive terms as Vice-President, filed his nomination papers before Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Vishwanathan, who is the Returning Officer for the poll.

Sonia Gandhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Congress MP Motilal Vora and BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra submitted one set of papers each to Vishwanathan in support of Ansari`s candidature. Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and leaders of other ruling coalition were also present.

Soon after filing his nomination papers, Ansari thanked UPA and its partners for supporting his candidature. "I am very grateful to all the leaders who have come here to attend this function, for supporting my nomination and for sponsoring me," he told reporters.

He was greeted by MPs from Congress and UPA partners. No TMC MP was present when Ansari filed his papers.

The Prime Minister said, "We are all very delighted that there is such a massive support for renomination of Hamid Ansari for the august office of Vice President."

Ansari was received by the Prime Minister, the Congress President and other leaders in the lobby of Parliament since he holds the office of Vice President and they accompanied him to the Lok Sabha Secretary General`s office.

Besides NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Union Minister and party leader Praful Patel was present when Ansari filed his nomination papers. NCP had not attended the UPA meeting in which Ansari`s candidature was announced.

RLD chief Ajit Singh, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, RJD leader Lalu Prasad, DMK`s T R Baalu, AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal, Bodo People`s Front MP S K Bwiswmuthiary were among those present.

Ansari will face a direct contest from NDA nominee Jaswant Singh in the Vice Presidential poll. Singh will file his papers on July 20, the last date for filing nominations.

Numbers are stacked highly in favour of Ansari and the ruling coalition has expressed confidence it would corner around 500 of the total 790 votes in the electoral college comprising members of the two Houses.

Trinamool Congress, which has decided to vote for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential poll, has said the party will decide later its stand on the Vice Presidential election.

Ansari will be the second leader to get two consecutive terms as Vice President. S Radhakrishnan had served as Vice President from 1952 to 1962.

A diplomat and an academician, Ansari became Vice President in 2007 after defeating NDA nominee Najma Heptullah. He has earlier served as India`s Permanent Representative to the UN, High Commissioner to Australia, and Ambassador to the UAE, Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

A Padma Shri awardee, he was also Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and Chairperson of National Commission for Minorities.