Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday signed on the nomination paper as a proposer for the candidature of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma in the coming Presidential election.
Patnaik was the first to sign on the nomination paper of Sangma as a proposer. "I had come here to secure signatures of BJD members of Legislative Assembly, members of Parliament and ministers before filing of the nomination papers by Sangma," said Conrad Sangma, son of P A Sangma.
Besides Patnaik, about 100 members including MLAs, MPs and ministers of Odisha signed on the paper, Conrad who is also the leader of opposition in Meghalaya, told reporters.
While 50 members signed as proposer for P A Sangma, 50 others signed as seconder, he said. Thanking Naveen Patnaik and the BJD, he said the Odisha chief minister was the first person to announce his father's name as a presidential candidate and other parties rallied behind him later.
"It clearly shows his love for the tribal people and the Christian people," Conrad said.
Patnaik, on his part, said Conrad had met members of the 'Biju Parivar' (MLAs, MPs and ministers).
"Since Sangma belongs to the tribal community and minority, he should get elected to the highest post of the country," Patnaik said.
Earlier, Patnaik hosted a lunch at Naveen Niwas where over 100 MLAs, MPs and ministers joined. BJD has 108 MLAs and 21 MPs (14 in Lok Sabha and 7 in Rajya Sabha).
"Except two MLAs and one MP who had been suspended from the party and three others dropped from the ministry, all others attended the programme," BJD vice-president Damodar Rout said.
Meanwhile, JD-U leader and National Democratic Alliance convener Sharad Yadav will be a proposer for UPA's Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee who is expected to file his nomination papers on Thursday.
Mukherjee is expected to file four sets of nomination papers and Yadav is the first signatory to one such set which also has the signature of Defence Minister A K Antony.
Yadav signed on the nomination paper after Union Ministers Rajiv Shukla and V Narayanasamy drove down to his official residence.
The two Congress leaders had an hour-long discussion with the JD-U chief and is learnt to have requested him to be present when Mukherjee files his nomination on June 28.
Another JD-U MP Vashishtha Narayan Singh has also signed on the same set of nomination paper. The JD-U decided to support Mukherjee's Presidential candidature, going against BJP's decision to back P A Sangma's candidature.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is learnt to have been a strong votary of consensus on Presidential election and is learnt to have put his weight behind Mukherjee's candidature, arrived in the national capital on Tuesday morning.
Kumar is expected to meet Yadav during two day-long stay.
The decision of JD-U to support Mukherjee's candidature has led to speculation of Nitish Kumar's party breaking ranks with NDA, a view both Yadav and Kumar have denied.