NEW DELHI, June 18: Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has opted out of the Presidential race despite appeals made to him by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress to contest the election.
In a statement, Kalam said, "You are aware of the developments in the run up to the presidential election. Though I have never aspired to serve another term or shown interest in contesting the election, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, other political parties wanted me to be their 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. This being their wish, I respect it. I want to thank them for the trust they have in me.
"I have considered the totality of the matter and the present political situation, and decided not to contest the presidential election 2012."
He also said that the support he had received for his candidature had overwhelmed him.
His statement came in the wake of reports about BJP leader L K Advani and BJP emissary Sudheendra Kulkarni talking to Kalam about contesting for the top post.
"BJP leader Advani spoke to Abdul Kalam-ji for the third time. But Kalam told him that his conscience is not permitting him to contest," the source close to Kalam said.
Presidential pain for NDA
Kalam´s denial comes as a blow to the BJP as the party now has to come with up another nomination for the president´s post.
The BJP´s plans to keep the NDA intact and woo new allies by contesting the presidential election came unstuck after the JD(U) insisted on supporting Pranab Mukherjee and not Purno A. Sangma.
But sections of the BJP, keen on eventually bringing in Mamata Banerjee, J Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik into the NDA parivar, asked senior leader LK Advani to "keep working" on the Bengal chief minister and coax her to support Sangma.
But Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also conveyed to the BJP politely but firmly that his party favoured nothing else than consensus on Mukherjee.
Compulsions of governance and NDA´s internal politics are said to be steering Nitish. The chief minister has been seeking special category status for Bihar from the Centre. He is also believed to be wary of the rise of Narendra Modi, particularly after the BJP started projecting the Gujarat chief minister as a national leader.