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Ansari, Najma file nominations

Special Correspondent

With entry of ruling UPA and NDA candidates, poll has become a 3-way race

— Photo: AP

Gearing up: NDA’s Vice-Presidential candidate Najma Heptulla files her nomination papers at the Parliament House on Monday. (From right) BJP leaders Jaswant Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani are seen.

NEW DELHI: United Progressive Alliance-Left candidate Mohammad Hamid Ansari and National Democratic Alliance nominee Najma Heptulla on Monday filed their nomination papers for the August 10 Vice-Presidential election.

Mr. Ansari was the first to file his papers with the Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha and Returning Officer, Yogendra Narain, at the Parliament House. He was accompanied by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers and leaders of the allied and supporting Left parties.

With the entry of the candidates of the ruling coalition and the principal Opposition alliance, the election has essentially become a three-cornered race.

The United National Progressive Alliance candidate, Rasheed Masood, filed his nomination last week.

“Great occasion”

Mr. Ansari, a former diplomat, described it as a “great occasion.”

Asked as to how he would conduct the proceeding of the Rajya Sabha, as the Vice-President is an ex-officio Chairman of the House, he said: “Any organisation is run on the basis of rules and regulations. The Rajya Sabha has excellent rules and regulations.”

Later, Ms. Heptulla arrived to file her papers. NDA Chairperson Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani, BJP president Rajnath Singh, NDA convener George Fernandes and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa of the Akali Dal were among those present.

The Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress members were conspicuous by their absence.

Ms. Heptulla said she was in an electoral contest and had the requisite qualification for the post.

She pointed out that she had been a member of the House for 27 years. “I have 27 years of legislative experience, the right type of qualification and was in the Chair for 17 years….”

Ms. Heptulla said she was aware of the numbers, and countered statements that she was made a “sacrificial goat” by the NDA.

“A matter of pride”

She said it was a matter of pride that her party decided to field her. She would contact each and every member of the electoral college. “If they vote for me, it is welcome and if they don’t I will accept their decision.”

Mr. Vajpayee said the decision to contest the Vice-Presidential election was an “announcement of [Opposition’s] existence and establish that elections were an essential part of democracy.”

Mr. Rajnath Singh said the party decided to contest with the objective of winning. At the time of closure of nominations on Monday, 46 persons filed their papers, which would be scrutinised on Tuesday. Thursday is the last date for withdrawal.

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