Masood files papers for Vice-President

Despite speculation about fissures within the United National Progressive Alliance, the newly-formed coalition took a lead on Friday in filing the nomination papers of its Vice-Presidential nominee, Rasheed Masood. The election is scheduled to be held on August 10.

A Samajwadi Party MP from Saharanpur, Mr. Masood (60) filed his nomination here in the presence of SP leader Mulayam Singh, Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu, Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala and Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Manch. Other allies — the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Asom Gana Parishad — were represented by their MPs.

The candidate filed one set of nomination papers that had all UNPA constituents as proposers and seconders.“We are rock solid together and committed to providing an anti-Congress, anti-BJP alternative,” SP general secretary Amar Singh told journalists when asked about some of the partners going against the decision to abstain from voting in the Presidential elections. He said some MPs voted because of the confusion created by BJP leaders and the Election Commission order on “abstention” and the fear that by abstaining they might lose their membership.

To a question, he said AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa could not be present when Mr Masood’s nomination was being filed, as she was not well. “But the AIADMK was very much represented by Rajya Sabha member K. Malaisamy.”

Both Mr. Mulayam Singh and Mr. Amar Singh objected to Communist Party of India leader A.B. Bardhan’s remark that the AIADMK had deserted them. “Those in the company of the Congress should not comment on the UNPA. It is an unwarranted interference in our matters,” they said.

On Thursday’s voting, Mr. Naidu said it was the era of coalition politics. “Our intention is to provide a third front.” Mr. Chautala said the UNPA would seek the National Democratic Alliance’s support for Mr. Masood, even though it did not back the NDA’s Presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. “In politics, you cannot have a give and take. We will approach everyone for their support. We want our candidate to win.”

Mr. Masood expressed similar sentiments. He said he was contesting to win.

Rajya Sabha Secretary-General Yogendra Narain is the returning officer for the Vice-Presidential election. The last date for filing nomination papers is July 23.

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