President election: Pranab says can’t forge signature;Sangma to move court

New Delhi: United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee today denied that the signature on his letter of resignation from the Kolkata-based ISI was “forged” even as Team Sangma upped the ante and threatened to go to court.

Sangma, who has the backing of several opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the July 19 presidential poll, had written to returning officer V.K. Agnihotri seeking a copy of his order rejecting the objection against the candidature of Mukherjee, fielded by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The Election Commission directed Agnihotri to give details of the scrutiny proceedings and the order rejecting Sangma’s objection to Mukherjee’s candidature to him.

“When he (Agnihotri) asked, then the EC (Election Commission) suggested to him to give everybody, including Sangma, the details. He was also asked to put the proceedings on the website,” said a poll panel officia.

Earlier, in a two-hour meeting of Team Sangma at BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s residence here, the option to approach court against Mukherjee’s nomination was discussed.

The party, however, maintained that a final decision will be taken only after they get the copy of the order rejecting their objections to Mukherjee’s candidature.

“We have surprisingly not received the order. We are waiting for the official copy and only then we will move court,” said Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party leader.

Sources said that the party was also pondering to file an election petition, which is a plea filed by any contestant if they feel malpractices have been involved in the election. The petition is heard by the high court of the state.

Touring the country to canvass votes in his favour, Mukherjee asked in Thiruvananthapuram: “How can I forge my own signature?”

“All these issues have been discussed in front of the returning officer,” said Mukherjee.

Sangma’s team Monday demanded rejection of Mukherjee’s nomination alleging he held an office of profit as the chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

 

Mukherjee, however, produced his resignation letter dated June 20 with acceptance from the ISI, after which Sangma’s request was rejected and Mukherjee’s nomination accepted.

At a press conference Tuesday, the BJP alleged that signatures of Mukherjee on two documents submitted were different.

On Wednesday, Home Minister P. Chidambaram called the allegation of a forged signature “scandalous”.

“It is a scandalous suggestion and I am sure Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate, has taken note of this scandalous statement,” said Chidambaram to reporters in reply to a question on the BJP’s charge against Mukherjee.

Asked about the BJP’s plans, Chidambaram said: “No one can stop anyone from going to court.”

But sources said the government was preparing for a showdown as it anticipated that BJP-backed Sangma would not leave the office of profit charge against Mukherjee and may take the matter to court after the presidential election.

 

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