The two candidates who are hoping to be president of India are ready to hit the ground running. Pranab Mukherjee filed his nomination papers today as the candidate of the ruling coalition, the UPA. PA Sangma did the same as the opposition's contender: he's backed by the BJP, and chief ministers Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik.
Both men say they will begin their campaign in the next few days. That will involve travelling to different states to lobby legislators elected to state assemblies. The election for president is based on proportional representation. Votes of state legislators are at par with the votes of all MPs.
Mr Mukherjee, who quit as Finance Minister this week to prep for a likely move to Rashtrapati Bhavan has been allowed to use his bullet-proof car during his campaign. That's a concession made by the Election Commission on security grounds. The Congress has said it will foot the bill for planes or helicopters hired by Mr Mukherjee to travel to different states.
The BJP says it will pay for Mr Sangma's trips to states where it's in power.
The election is scheduled for July 19. The results will be counted on July 22. Mr Mukherjee should be able to comfortably cross the 50% mark - in addition to the UPA, Mulayam Singh Yadav and two Left parties have endorsed him. So has Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), which has broken ranks with its ally, the BJP, on this one issue. Conspicuous in her absence from Team Pranab is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose party is a senior partner in the UPA. Despite repeated appeals from the Congress and Mr Mukherjee - he reached out to her again today - she has yet to indicate whether her party will vote for him after all. The former Finance Minister was not on a list of three candidates she pitched earlier this month. Of them, her favourite was former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who decided not to run against Mr Mukherjee.
Unlike in Lok Sabha and assembly elections, the presidential and vice presidential candidates do not declare their assets as they are not mandated under the law. Pawan Bansal, who is Pranab Mukherjee's authorised election agent, told NDTV that they will be following convention and Mr Mukherjee will not declare his assets. President Pratibha Patil had created a precedent by declaring her assets some years after assuming office. With the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, and all other constitutional heads declaring their assets, the demand for greater transparency and an amendment to the law is being felt.