New Delhi, June 20:

Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Monday became the third person to decline the Opposition parties’ request to be their Presidential candidate.

Earlier, Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah had declined to be the Opposition’s joint candidate for the Presidential election set to be held on July 18.

In a statement issued Monday, Gandhi said: “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 beside Opposition unity. I feel there will be others who will do this far better than I. And so I have requested the leaders to give the opportunity to such a person.”

“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,” added the former diplomat, who is also the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s announcement comes a day ahead of the Opposition’s second round of discussions on June 21 to finalise a consensus candidate.

Even in 2017, the Opposition camp had wanted to field Gandhi as its Presidential candidate, but the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) decision to pick Ram Nath Kovind as its face had forced a rethink. Eventually, the Opposition fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, also a Dalit like Kovind.