Pranab trashes fake signature charge, BJP may move court
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Demanding a copy of the written order from the Returning Officer rejecting his objections to Mukherjee's candidature on Tuesday, Opposition candidate P A Sangma moved the Election Commission, which directed the Rajya Sabha secretary general, the Returning Officer for the elections, to provide a copy of the order.
The government said that the Opposition was taking the Presidential election to a new low. "It is a scandalous suggestion and I am sure Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate, has taken note of this scandalous statement," Chidambaram said in reply to a question on BJP's charge against Mukherjee. The BJP had on Tuesday said the resignation letter to ISI, Kolkata, was "fabricated".
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mukherjee's representative, also said the objections were frivolous. "It is preposterous to suggest such a thing," he said.
In Thiruvananthpuram, Mukherjee countered the BJP charges himself: "Who had forged my signature? I myself? I do not know what they have said. Who can forge his own signature. This issue we have debated at the office of the Returning Officer and the Returning Officer responded to that. How can somebody lodge a complaint that you forged your own signature?"
BJP leader Satya Pal Jain, Sangma's representative, however, threatened to move the court on the matter even though there appeared to be a division within the Opposition camp whether the issue should now be taken to such an extent. "Returning Officer's order is a quasi-judicial order, but he is not providing the copy of it for reasons best known to him. Before deciding whether we approach court to seek recourse against his order, we might have to approach the court to get the order in the first place," Jain told The Indian Express over the phone from Chandigarh, terming the delay as "shocking and intriguing".
That the BJP was not willing to let go of the issue was also obvious when senior leaders, including S S Ahluwalia, termed the delay in providing a certified copy of the Returning Officer's order as "unprecedented".
Following a meeting that Sangma had with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, Ahluwalia indicated that the party was not in a mood to relent. However, a section of party leaders confided against pressing the issue further after Returning Officer's order.
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