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SHILLONG: Meghalaya was jubilant on Thursday as 'son-of-the-soil' Purno A'gitok Sangma, a former MP and MLA from the Garo Hills, filed his nomination for the highest constitutional position in the largest democracy in the world.

"It is indeed a historic day as it is for the first time that a tribal candidate has entered the fray for presidential elections in the country," said a senior functionary of the Meghalaya unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), from which Sangma had recently resigned, as it had not backed his candidature for the presidential polls.

"This election is going to be fought on issues pertaining to the diversity in India and the tribal people of the country are keenly observing it," he said. He added that "there is nothing wrong" in Sangma appealing to the electoral college to vote for him as a representative of the minority tribals and Christians in the country.

"Though UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee's numbers seem to be heavily weighed against NDA-backed Sangma at this point, there is all-round curiosity as to the outcome of this battle as it would also bring about political realignment in the country ahead of the next general elections in 2014," said a political observer.

"The fact that BJP, a major national political organization and several other strong regional parties, including the AIADMK, BJD, Shiva Sena, Akali Dal have come out in support of Sangma, a candidate, who is primarily harping on his tribal and Christian origins, goes to show that mainland political parties and people at large in the country are truly secular and accommodating enough," pointed out Biswajit Guha, a retired teacher and a keen observer of the run-up to presidential elections.

Political observers feel that Sangma, who appears to be the "dark horse' in the race to Raisina Hills, would be a "key figure" in bringing about a "total realignment" of political forces in the country ahead of the next general elections.