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Race turns ugly, BJP tries to trip Pranab


The fight for the top post is turning ugly, with BJP-backed presidential candidate PA Sangma demanding that UPA contestant Pranab Mukherjee's candidature be scrapped for holding an office of profit.


The ruling alliance, however, dismissed as "factually incorrect" the allegation that since Mukherjee was still chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, he should be forced out of the race.

But the BJP has managed to get the scrutiny of nomination papers postponed till Tuesday.


MPs and MLAs cannot hold any office that provides them monetary benefits, powers and patronage, unless they are protected by a specific declaration by Parliament or state legislatures. BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad argued that such protection was relevant only in case of MPs.


Although Mukherjee's office and the Kolkata institute stated that he had resigned well before filing his nomination, the BJP claimed it could prove that Mukherjee was holding the office when he filed nomination papers.


Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "Mukherjee has already resigned as chairman of the institute on June 20... We will file a detailed reply on Tuesday."


"We'll appeal to the Election Commission to seize all records of the institute... As per our information, it is factually not correct that Mukherjee resigned (the office) on June 20," Prasad said.


Earlier, Bansal and home minister P Chidambaram sought time from Rajya Sabha secretary general VK Agnihotri, who is the returning officer for the polls, when the objection was raised during scrutiny of nomination papers.


Sangma's lawyer and BJP leader Satyapal Jain said Mukherjee's profile on the Lok Sabha website and the institute website showed him holding the post till at least 11am on Monday.


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