Pranab Mukherjee, the ruling UPA party's nominee and former finance minister of India filed his nomination papers for the July 19 presidential elections on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi and other alliance leaders.
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. I only wish at this time that we have the blessings of God and cooperation of all at this juncture, he said after filing the papers for the country's top albeit ceremonial post.
Mukherjee resigned on Tuesday from the finance ministry to contest elections and the Prime Minister took temporary charge of the finance ministry from Wednesday.
Former Loksabha Speaker, P A Sangma, the opposition-backed candidate also filed his nomination papers for the presidential elections Thursday afternoon. The opposition party NDA, as well as the AIADMK and Biju Dal are backing Sangma, who quit his party, the NCP, to fight elections. The NCP has lent its support to Mukherjee.
The UPA's strength in the assembly gives a comfortable advantage to Mukherjee. His candidacy has virtually created new political equations and break-ups in the country. Mukherjee, who has supporters across parties, has divided both ruling and opposition coalitions.
Trinamool congress, which was an ally of the ruling UPA, is on its way out of the coalition as its leader Mamata Banerjee is dead against Mukherjee, while NDA allies the Shiv Sena and Janata Dal (U) are in favor of Mukherjee. Even the left parties are split with the CPI(M) and the Forward Block supporting Mukherjee and the RSP and CPI deciding to abstain from voting.
In the current scenario, Mukherjee has 56.17 percent support while that of Sangma is 31.7 percent. Though the current numbers don't favor Sangma, he believes that he can convince and win over more allies by the time of the election.
Both candidates will start campaigning from tomorrow. Polling will be held on July 19 and India will have a new president by July 22.
Prime Minister plans to issue an explanatory note on investment situation
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, who has taken charge of the finance ministry from Mukherjee has initiated a series of meetings and consultations to improve the economy, which is struggling with high inflation, trade deficits and low investments.
Signaling speedy measures to boost growth and arrest inflation, Singh on Wednesday, took stock of the situation and conducted a series of high-level bureaucratic meetings and pressed for urgent corrective measures.
The Prime Minister, concerned about the growing pessimism of investors regarding the Indian economy, plans to issue an 'explanatory note' on portfolio investments, as told to Reuters by an official of the PMO's office. We need to work to get the economy going again and restart the India growth story. Reverse the climate of pessimism... Revive the animal spirit in the country's economy, Singh said.
Admitting that there are several domestic factors that have contributed to the economic slowdown, apart from external problems like the euro zone crisis, the Prime Minister said that immediate emphasis will be to address trade deficits and improve Balance of Payments and fund inflow to the country. Singh, who was finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government, had initiated the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991.