New Delhi: In a rebuff to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Monday said he would not contest the presidential poll against ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Kalam said he had taken the decision after considering “the totality of this matter and the present political situation”.
Kalam, who was propped up by the Trinamool as a nominee for the presidential poll to be held on 19 July, said, “Though I have never aspired to serve another term or shown interest in contesting the elections”, Banerjee and other political parties “wanted me” to be the candidate.
Common candidate: Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Photo by PIB.
“Many, many citizens have also expressed the same wish. It only reflects their love and affection for me and the aspiration of the people. I am really overwhelmed by this support,” his statement said.
“This being their wish, I respect it. I want to thank them for the trust they have in me,” he said, adding, “I have considered the totality of this matter and the present political situation, and decided not to contest the presidential election 2012.”
After Banerjee pushed Kalam’s candidature, breaking ranks with UPA over the issue, the BJP also tried hard to persuade him to contest as the opposition’s common candidate against Mukherjee.
BJP leader L.K. Advani called him and sent his close aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, to convince him.
However, Kalam said his “conscience” wouldn’t permit him to contest, said people aware of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former president has been insisting that he would consider entering the fray only if his victory is assured.
Several opposition leaders talked to Kalam over the phone on Sunday to find out about his plans.
The main opposition party was more in favour of fielding Kalam than former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, who is the choice of All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J. Jayalalithaa and Biju Janata Dal head Naveen Patnaik.