New Delhi: With the countdown to the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections, political heavyweights from several parties have ruled themselves out from contesting in this election.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Wednesday said she will not contest this year’s Lok Sabha election, joining heavyweights who have made the same choice. Nationalist Congress chief (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have already ruled themselves out of the race.

While Mayawati has ruled herself out keeping the interest of the nation in mind, Pawar is making way for the next generation in his family to contest and Swaraj has ruled herself out to due to health reasons.

At a press conference, Mayawati said fighting the current situation in the country was her focus.

“Seeing the needs of the current situation in the country and keeping the party’s momentum in mind, guided by the people and nation’s interest, it is best for me not to contest now. Keeping this in mind, I have decided not to contest these Lok Sabha elections for now," she said.

However, Mayawati has kept the option of contesting elections later open. She said if there is an opportunity after elections, then she can contest from any seat, without any problem, to become a Lok Sabha member.

Explaining her decision on Twitter, Mayawati said she became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for the first time in 1995 without being a member of the assembly or council.

“Similarly is the provision at the Centre where a person has to be a LS/RS member within 6 months of holding office of minister/PM. Don’t be disheartened by my decision not to contest LS poll now," she said.

Mayawati has been a member of the Lok Sabha on three occasions. She last contested general elections in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

She has also served as a chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times and has been a member of the Rajya Sabha three times. She resigned her seat in 2017 after she was not given permission to make an impromptu speech in the house.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, there was speculation that she would contest the election this time.

In Uttar Pradesh, BSP is contesting elections in alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

“I am certain that people in the party will not only welcome my decision but also work towards making BSP-SP-RLD win in all the seats. They will also respect the farsightedness of this decision taken by me," she said.

Last week, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, making way for the next generation in his family to contest, said that instead of him, his daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar’s son Parth would contest the general election.

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