Ansari files nomination for vice presidential contest


New Delhi : Hamid Ansari Wednesday filed his nomination papers for being re-elected to the office of the vice president in the presence of several United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

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The nomination papers were handed over to Lok Sabha Secretary General T.K. Viswanathan, who is the returning officer for the Aug 7 poll.

In an indication about the growing significance of Samajwadi Party (SP) to the Congress-led UPA government, its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was seated next to the prime minister at the brief event in Parliament House. The SP supports the government from the outside.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad were also in the front row along with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Misra, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, DMK’s T.R. Baalu and Lok Janshakti Party’s Ram Vilas Paswan were also among those present. No leader from the Trinamool Congress was present.

The prime minister, in his brief remarks, expressed happiness over the “massive support” for Ansari.

“We are all very delighted that there is such a massive support for re-nomination of Ansari Sahib for the august office of vice president,” Manmohan Singh told reporters.

Ansari, 75, said it was a privilege for him to be candidate of the UPA and supporting parties.

“It is a privilege for me to be candidate of UPA and supporting parties. I am very grateful to all the leaders who have come here to attend this function and sponsor me,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi, Yadav, Misra and Congress treasurer Motilal Vora submitted one set of nomination papers for Ansari.

The UPA candidate would face contest from National Democratic Alliance candidate Jaswant Singh in the vice presidential poll.

Jaswant Singh is expected to file his nomination papers July 20, which is the last date for filing nominations.

Congress sources said they were expecting over 500 votes for Ansari in an electoral college comprising 790 MPs of the two houses of parliament.

If re-elected, Ansari will be the second vice president after S. Radhakrishnan to get another term in office.

Trinamool Congress leaders indicated Wednesday that the party was likely to back Ansari.

A distinguished scholar and a seasoned diplomat, Ansari was elected vice president in 2007 as a common candidate of Left parties and the UPA.

Ansari joined Indian Foreign Service in 1961 and served in Indian missions in Baghdad, Rabat, Jeddah and Brussels.

He has been India’s ambassador to United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran and High Commissioner to Australia.

Ansari was vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University from 2000 to 2002 when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was in power. He has also been associated with Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia.

He was conferred Padma Shri in 1984.