New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) Terming it a "victory of tribal unity", National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential candidate P.A. Sangma Thursday filed his nomination papers for the July 19 presidential election.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and party leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were amongst those who were present at the Rajya Sabha secretariat when Sangma filed his nomination.
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee filed his papers earlier in the day.
"Today is a victory of tribal unity...that a tribal is filing his nomination for the post of president," Sangma told reporters ahead of submitting his papers to Rajya Sabha secretary general V.K. Agnihotri, the returning officer for the election.
Sangma said he is a candidate sponsored by the Tribal Forum of India, nominated by the chief ministers of Odisha and Tamil Nadu and backed by BJP and other NDA allies.
The Nationalist Congress Party, to which Sangma belongs, is part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which is supporting Mukherjee's candidature. The NCP had tried to dissuade Sangma from going ahead.
Sangma thanked the parties supporting him, and said he will start his campaign June 30 from his hometown Tura in Meghalaya where a 5,000 strong inter-religious gathering has been organised.
The tribal leader will then go to Guwahati before reaching Delhi July 2 to attend the wedding of Gadkari's daughter July 3.
"I am very happy to get the support of such political parties -- from tribal to that of northeast. It is insignificant where I am coming from," said Sangma after filing his nomination.
Sangma said he has met UPA partner Trinamool Congress president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata and was hopeful of her support.
"You must have seen her body language, I do not have to explain," he said.
Sangma also lamented that the Congress did not welcome the candidature of a tribal for the post of president despite the community having stood by the party.
"We wanted to express that tribals in India have all along stood by the Congress. We had expected Congress would welcome our request. However, the Congress did not come out in support of tribals," he said.
"We sought an appointment to meet Congress president (Sonia Gandhi). We were asked to wait in the Central Hall (of parliament) consecutively for three days. But we could not get an appointment. We then met other leaders," Sangma added.
Before filing his nomination Sangma added a bit of colour to his campaign by joining a group of tribal dancers who performed at the Constitution Club and played the drums.