The BJP-led Team Sangma is looking for every opportunity to trip him up, but the UPA's candidate for President, Pranab Mukherjee, is not fazed. He seems rather amused, ridiculing his opponent's supporters for their allegation that the signatures on his resignation letter to the Indian Statistical Institute are forged.
"Who has forged my signature? I myself? If I have forged my signature myself then what is the point? Somebody else forges signature of others. Who can forge his own signature?," said Mr Mukherjee with a hearty laugh, while speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
Mr Mukherjee takes on Purno Sangma in the contest for the next President of India; elections will be held on July 19. The papers of both candidates were scrutinised and accepted yesterday.
Team Sangma contends that Mr Mukherjee should be disqualified for holding an office of profit as the chairman of the statistics institute on the day he filed his nomination. It has sought a written, detailed order asking why its objection was overruled. It will get that order now, with the Election Commission giving the returning officer for the Presidential elections, VK Agnihotri, the go-ahead to issue it.
Mr Mukherjee says the matter is over. "These issues were debated at the office of the returning officer. The returning officer responded to that. If there is an allegation of forgery of signature, then somebody else forges the signature of another person. Then that person should lodge a complaint. We cannot complain that a man has forged his own signature," he said.
The former Finance Minister had yesterday replied to the objection made by Team Sangma. He said he had resigned from the position of chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute on June 20 and that it was accepted the same day. He also furnished a copy of his resignation signed by the President of the Kolkata-based institute, MGK Menon with a handwritten notation that says "accepted."
Team Sangma contends that since the Kolkata-based institute has a council, its president cannot accept the resignation letter without circulating it to the council members. It has alleged that the UPA candidate's resignation letter was prepared at the last minute only to save his nomination; the BJP has asked both Mr Mukherjee and Mr Menon to come clean on the issue.
"BJP alleges that it is a 100 per cent fabricated document... it's very unfortunate that persons contesting such offices as President of India are indulging in illegal activities. We are demanding justice from the Election Commission," BJP General Secretary Ananth Kumar said yesterday.
Clearly, though the numbers don't favour Mr Sangma in the race for President, his side is pulling out all stops to make a battle of it.
Mr Mukherjee is the candidate of the ruling UPA; he has also won the endorsement of two Left parties and Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which partners with the BJP in Bihar. All that pledged support totals more than 50 per cent of the electoral college that elects the President and as of now, Mr Mukherjee seems all set to be the next President of India. Both candidates have begun campaigning.