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84-year-old Abdullah is the second political person after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to have withdrawn their names as probable opposition nominee for the July elections.
“I withdraw my name from consideration as a possible joint opposition candidate for the President of India. I believe that Jammu & Kashmir is passing through a critical juncture and my efforts are required to help navigate these uncertain times,” said Abdullah.
“I have a lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of J-K and the country. I am grateful to Mamata didi for proposing my name. I am also grateful to all the senior leaders who offered me their support,” he added.
Abdullah’s statement comes ahead of a scheduled meeting of opposition parties in Mumbai to discuss their joint candidate for the presidential elections.
On June 15, the opposition parties had agreed to field a joint candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections that will be held on July 18. At least 17 parties had attended the opposition meeting convened by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, during which she had suggested the names of Farooq Abdullah or Gopalkrishna Gandhi as possible presidential candidate.
The Shiv Sena had recently warned that the people will start wondering how the Opposition will give a capable prime minister if it cannot field a strong candidate for the upcoming presidential polls, stressing that it needs to take the elections for the next president seriously.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the party said Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, the “regular names that crop up during the presidential polls”, don’t have the personality or heft to make it a tightly-contested battle.
The process of filing nominations for the presidential election began on June 15. Nominations can be submitted until June 29, and the papers will be scrutinised on June 30. The last day for withdrawal of candidature is July 2. The election will be held on July 18 and result will be declared on July 21.
The term of President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24.
(With inputs from agencies)