Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Monday declined the Opposition’s request to be their joint presidential candidate, PTI reported.
In a statement, the former civil servant said that the Opposition needs a candidate who will generate a national consensus and ensure unity.
“I am most grateful to them [the Opposition],” Gandhi said. “I feel there will be others who will do this far better than I.”
Gandhi said he has requested the Opposition to give the opportunity to another person to contest the presidential elections, reported PTI.
“May India get a President worthy of the office presaged by Rajaji as the last Governor General and inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad as our first President,” he added.
The 77-year-old, who had also served as India’s High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka, is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and former Governor-General of India C Rajagopalachari.
Gandhi is the third political leader to withdraw his name as the joint candidate of the Opposition for the post of president.
Last week, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah declined the offer to run for the presidential post.
Abdullah said Jammu and Kashmir was passing through a critical juncture and required his efforts to navigate uncertain times.
The presidential election is scheduled for July 18 and the votes will be counted on July 21. The last date for filing nominations is June 29.
The president is elected by the members of the electoral college consisting of MPs from both Houses of Parliament and MLAs of all states, including the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had invited leaders of 19 political parties to a meeting in Delhi on June 15 to discuss the presidential election. The next meeting to decide on a joint candidate is likely to be held by the Opposition on Tuesday, PTI reported.
An unidentified Trinamool Congress leader told PTI on Monday that non-Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are now thinking of offering a joint nomination to former Union minister Yashwant Sinha.
Sinha had joined the Trinamool Congress last year.
“The name of the former BJP leader has been proposed as a presidential poll candidate by a few opposition parties and three to four have seconded it,” the leader said. “Banerjee has received phone calls suggesting the 85-year-old veteran leader’s name and she too is now pitching for Sinha as the joint opposition nominee.”
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