NEW DELHI: Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Monday declined the opposition leaders' request to contest the upcoming presidential election, the third person to do so after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah also gave the offer a pass.
The development complicates the road ahead for the Opposition to put up a joint consensus candidate in the presidential polls to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance nominee.
The next meeting of major opposition parties to deliberate on a consensus candidate for the presidential election is likely to be held on Tuesday here.
In a statement, Gandhi said several esteemed leaders of the Opposition have done him the honour of thinking of him for the opposition's candidature in the upcoming elections for the presidency. "I am most grateful to them. But having considered the matter deeply I see that the Opposition's candidate should be one who will generate a national consensus and a national atmosphere besides Opposition unity. I feel there will be others who will do this far better than I," he said.
"And so I have requested the leaders to give the opportunity to such a person. May India get a President worthy of the office presaged by Rajaji as the last Governor General and inaugurated by Dr Rajendra Prasad as our first President," Gandhi said.
The 77-year-old former bureaucrat had also served as India's High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka. He is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari.
Gandhi was the consensus opposition candidate for the post of Vice President of India in 2017 but had lost to M Venkaiah Naidu in the election.
Gandhi's statement came two days after former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Abdullah withdrew his name as the potential joint opposition candidate for the presidential elections.