BJP slur adds bitter taste to Pranab's UP meals
New Delhi/Lucknow, July 3 : UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday shared lunch with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and dinner with the latter's arch rival Mayawati, but the BJP and Team Sangma allegations of forgery added a bitter taste to the otherwise sumptuous presidential campaign food of the Congress stalwart.
On Tuesday, nominations of both Presidential candidates Pranab Mukherjee and PA Sangma were accepted despite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which backs Sangma, going to the extent of a press conference to allege that Mukherjee was holding an office of profit when he filed his nomination and a letter submitted as evidence that he was not, was carrying a forged signature.
P A Sangma group alleged that Pranab Mukherjee held an office of profit as the chairman of the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) when he filed the nomination, but the returning officer rejected the charges and accepted the nomination of Mukherjee.
BJP leader Ananth Kumar Tuesday said: "The resignation letter [dated June 20] and the acceptance is a complete fabrication. The order of the returning officer is flawed. We expect the Election Commission to do justice. We will wait for a written order from the returning officer."
Pranab Mukherjee in writing has denied the charges too.
"I deny the averments. The objections have no factual basis and in fact are false," he said adding that he tendered his resignation on June 20 and it was accepted the same day.
"The objection that I hold office of profit is misconceived and untenable," he said.
BJP said the signature of Pranab Mukherjee in the resignation letter does not match with his regular initial.
The Returning Officer accepted Mukherjee's nomination after scrutinizing important papers. Sangma's nomination papers were also accepted.
Sangma's camp on Monday had objected to Mukherjee's nomination for the election stating that the former Union Finance Minister was allegedly holding an office of profit on the nomination filing day.
Rejecting the claim, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal said that Mukherjee had resigned from the post a week ahead of filing his nomination.
"He (Mukherjee) had resigned as chairman, ISI, on June 20, a week before he filed his nominations," Bansal, the authorised representative of Mukherjee, was quoted as saying.
Sangma's candidature has been backed by several political parties including the BJP, the BJD and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday visited Uttar Pradesh to meet several political leaders in an attempt to draw their support for the upcoming election.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav hosted a lunch for Mukherjee.
Mukherjee had lunch with the CM and his ministers and MLAs at the CM's 5 Kalidas Marg residence.
Mukherjee also received a dinner invitation from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and so after lunch with Akhilesh, it would be dinner with BSP chief and former UP Chief Minister Mayawati for Pranab Mukherjee.
Both the BSP and the ruling SP, who are arch rivals in politics, have backed Mukherjee's Presidential candidature.
Mukherjee also met MPs and MLAs belonging to the Congress and other parties on Tuesday afternoon.
Mukherjee had earlier visited Chennai and Hyderabad to draw support for himself for the upcoming Presidential election.
He will visit Kerala on July 4 and Rajasthan and Gujarat on July 5. Mukherjee is likely to visit Assam and Tripura on July 6.
He will campaign at his home state West Bengal on July 9 and several other states in the upcoming days.
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said Janata Dal (United) is supporting the UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee as an individual.
He said JD(U) will not support the UPA or its policies.
"Our party is supporting Pranab Mukherjee as an individual leader and also as a politician," Kumar said while addressing a press conference on Monday .
"We are not going to support the UPA," he said.
He said he has invited the former Union Finance Minister to visit Bihar first after becoming the President of the country.
"I have invited UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee to visit Bihar after becoming elected as the President of the country," he said.
The JD(U) on June 21 announced it will support United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Mukherjee in the Presidential election while the BJP said it will back former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma for the titular post.