Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah Saturday withdrew his name as the potential joint opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, saying he has a "lot more active politics" ahead of him, and that he wanted to contribute in navigating the Union Territory through the current "critical juncture".
The 84-year-old Abdullah is the second political person after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to have withdrawn their names as probable opposition nominee for the July elections.
In a statement, Abdullah, who heads the National Conference and is at present a Lok Sabha member, however, thanked the opposition leaders for proposing his name. He said he was honoured that his name was proposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to run for the office of the President of India.
"Subsequent to Mamata didi proposing my name, I have received a number of calls from opposition leaders offering their support for my candidature," Abdullah said in the statement, adding he had discussions with senior colleagues of his party and family about this "unexpected" development.
"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," he said.
The former Union minister said he believed he has a "lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of JK 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," the NC statement said, conveying his gratitude to Banerjee and all the senior leaders who offered their support.
Abdullah's name was proposed by Banerjee during a meeting earlier this week of 17 opposition parties, including the Congress, DMK, NCP and the Samajwadi Party.
Banerjee had suggested the names of Abdullah and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi after Pawar had declined the offer.
The process to elect a new president began on June 15. The last date of filing of nominations is June 29. The polls, if necessary, will be held on July 18 and and the counting on July.
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