Kalam opts out of presidential race
PTI NEW DELHI IN a rebuff to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and BJP, former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Monday announced that he would not contest the Presidential poll against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Issuing a formal announcement, he said he had taken the decision after considering “the totality of this matter and the present political situation“.
Kalam, who was propped up by Trinamool as a nominee for the Presidential poll to be held on July 19, said, “though I have never aspired to serve another term or shown interest in contesting the elections”, Mamata Banerjee and other political parties “wanted me” to be the candidate.
“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 his candidature, breaking ranks with UPA over the issue, the BJP also tried hard to persuade him to contest as Opposition’s common candidate against Mukherjee.
BJP leader L K Advani called him thrice and sent his close aide Sudheendra Kulkarni twice to convince him.
However, he made clear to Advani that his “conscience” is not permitting him to contest, sources said.
The former President has been insisting that he could consider entering the fray only if there was surety about his victory. Several opposition leaders talked to Kalam over phone yesterday to know about his plans.
BJP was more in favour of fielding Kalam than former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, who is AIADMK Chief J Jayalalithaa and BJD head Naveen Patnaik’s choice.
Even JD(U), which wants a consensus for Mukherjee, may support Kalam as he shares a good equation with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile, favouring a consensus amidst division in the NDA over opposing UPA Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, Kumar on Monday said that the JD(U) would ‘go with the NDA’s decision’.
“Like the other constituents, the JD (U) too will abide by the final decision on the Presidential poll”, Kumar told reporters in Patna.
Kumar, however, refrained from clearly spelling out whether his party, JD (U) will support a contest against Mukherjee, saying, “There has been free and fair discussion (in the NDA meeting)”.
“We are in favour of consensus (on the Presidential poll) but how will there be a consensus on the issue unless NDA itself comes up with a consensus. Efforts are on to build a consensus and, hence, consultations are continuing in NDA”, he said.
Kumar said that the NDA had sufficient time to take a final decision to put up its own candidate or support any other candidate in the fray and hold more talks.
“Talks are going on. More discussions will follow. A churning of views is going on in the NDA. As long as a decision is not taken, it is not appropriate for the allies to give their viewpoints outside”, he said when asked whether JD (U) would support an NDA contest against Mukherjee’s candidature.