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Pranab holds office of profit: Sangma

Though P A Sangma lacks numbers to put up a contest in the presidential poll, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate is finding alternative paths to try and put a fight against his rival and former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Sangma's lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Satya Pal Jain filed objection to Mukherjee's candidature on Monday, saying that the presidential nominee holds an office of profit as the chairperson of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Kolkata.

'As per the information available on the web sites of the Lok Sabha and the ISI till eleven in the morning today, Pranab Mukherjee continues to be the chairman of the institute,' said Jain. He added that the prospectus of the institute also mentions Mukherjee as its chairperson. The BJP leader argued that according to Article 58 and Article 59 of the constitution a person is not eligible for an election for the president's post if he or she holds any office of profit under the government of India.

The government defended Mukherjee saying that the former finance minister had resigned a week before he had filed his nomination for the election.

'Pranab Mukherjee had resigned as chairman, ISI, on June 20, a week before he filed his nominations on June 28,' said the parliamentary affairs minister P K Bansal. He added that Sangma's claim were factually incorrect, legally ill-conceived and untenable.

'What the Congress is saying is factually not correct. We will await a proper reply from the representatives of Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow. This is the issue of the top office of country,' said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. The BJP has also appealed to the Election Commission that all records of ISI should be seized so that the records are not tampered.

Later in the day ISI backed the stand taken by the government and said that Mukherjee had indeed resigned as chairman of the ISI council on 20 June. 'Pranab Mukherjee has already submitted his resignation as ISI council chairman on June 20. But by mistake, Mukherjee's name continues to be on the ISI official web site,' said an ISI official.

He also said that this post was not an office of profit and Mukherjee was never paid any honorarium nor were there any reimbursement of his travel expenses.
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