Sangma calls Rashtrapati Bhavan 'dumping ground' for Pranab

Sharpening his attack on UPA rival Pranab Mukherjee, opposition-backed Presidential nominee P A Sangma on Tuesday said Rashtrapati Bhavan was being used as a 'dumping ground' for the 'failed' former finance minister.

'The Raisina Hill is being used as a dumping ground for the failed finance minister,' Sangma, who was here to mobilise support for his Presidential bid, told reporters.

Asked if he was confident of a victory, Sangma said, 'There are no ifs. I will win. I have never lost an election in my life. My winning margin has always increased.'

Sangma appealed to Congress ally NCP and NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has already declared support for Pranab Mukherjee, to back him. 'I have come here to appeal to parties, specially NCP and Bal Thackeray to support my candidature.'

On whether he would be meeting Thackeray, Sangma said, 'Not everything in politics happens through meetings. Like [media] have channels, we also have channels.'

Sangma said he had served as a minister under three Prime Ministers but found the Vajpayee-led NDA government to be better. 'NDA government under Vajpayee performed very well. No one can deny that,' he said.

Describing law minister Salman Khurshid's reported comments that Congress was lacking in 'ideological direction' as the 'beginning of a political churning', Sangma said there would be a lot more 'upheavals' in the days ahead.

'Despite making these remarks, how is Khurshid continuing in the Union Cabinet. Why is he not being sacked. This means that it is not he but 10, Janpath which is saying these things,' he claimed.

'I have been saying that this poll is going to be a political churner. The churning has started with Khurshid's statement,' Sangma said.

Sangma lamented that despite his contributions to the growth of NCP, the party decided not to back him in the presidential election.

Describing NCP chief Sharad Pawar as a 'very shrewd politician', Sangma said, 'I have in my own humble way, contributed to the growth of that party. The least I can expect is support.'

He appealed to his 'friends' in NCP to lend him their support listening to their 'conscience'. 'There is a conscience vote in the presidential poll. I know that my friends in NCP are [ones with] very [much] conscience,' he said.

Asked how he expected to win the poll with the numbers stacked heavily against him, Sangma said, 'Magic can always happen.' Asked to elaborate, he said, 'It is a secret. I can't tell you, or you will pass it on to my opponents.'

On his plea seeking the Election Commission's intervention for a fresh probe into his objections against the candidature of Mukherjee after he levelled new allegations that he was still holding two more offices of profit, Sangma said he was 'waiting for a ruling' from the poll panel.

Asked about the stance of his daughter and Union minister of state for rural development Agatha Sangma on his presidential bid, Sangma said, 'Technically parliamentary system of government is also known as cabinet system.

'Ministers of state, deputy ministers are not part of cabinet. She is supporting [the government] because NCP is supporting the centre.' Noting that no tribal ever occupied the President's post in the country, Sangma said, 'The country is facing many problems which are tribal-related, like Maoism, naxalism, underground insurgency. I, as a tribal leader of this country, can help the government to bring those people into national mainstream.'


The Election Commission Tuesday rejected opposition candidate PA Sangma's plea against the decision of the returning officer for the presidential election accepting the nomination papers of UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, official sources said.

'Your petition is not maintainable before the Election Commission,' said the poll panel in a letter to Sangma's lawyer Satyapal Jain Tuesday in response to the petition. Sangma, supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], last week demanded that Mukherjee's nomination be rejected as he was holding an office of profit as chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute [ISI] when he filed his papers on 28 June. Mukherjee has refuted the charge.
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