Saying that Kashmir is “passing through a critical juncture,” National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday pulled out of the presidential race, days after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar announced the same. Thanking other opposition leaders for suggesting his name for the upcoming President elections, Abdullah said that he was honoured when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed his name in the recently held big meeting by opposition leaders to deliberate upon a candidate’s name against the ruling BJP party.
“Subsequent to Mamata didi proposing my name, I have received a number of calls from opposition leaders offering their support for my candidature,” Abdullah declared in a statement, while adding, “I am deeply touched by the support that I’ve received and honoured to have been considered for the highest office in the country. I believe that Jammu and Kashmir is passing through a critical juncture and my efforts are required to help navigate these uncertain times.”
The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said that he took the decision, believing that he has a “lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of Jammu and Kashmir and the country.”
“Therefore, I would like to respectfully withdraw my name from consideration and I look forward to supporting the joint opposition consensus candidate,” Abdullah’s statement further read.
Earlier this week, in a meeting convened by Banerjee in Delhi, leaders of 17 parties including TMC, Congress, CPI, CPI(M), CPIML, RSP, Shiv Sena, NCP, RJD, SP, National Conference, PDP, JD(S), DMK, RLD, IUML and JMM decided collectively on a consensus candidate, while naming no one. In the meeting, Pawar’s name was proposed once again. After the meeting concluded, Pawar took to Twitter, ruling himself out of the race. Apart from Pawar and Abdullah, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s name was also proposed. The Opposition parties are slated to meet for a second round to decide upon a name for the July 18 President elections. The meeting will be convened by Sharad Pawar in Mumbai either on June 20 or June 21, according to reports.