Nirmala Sitharaman decides against contesting Lok Sabha polls

Finance Minister says BJP president asked her to consider contesting; cites “lack of money” and “winnability criteria” in southern States; she holds a Rajya Sabha seat whose tenure ends in June 2028

March 27, 2024 11:46 pm | Updated March 28, 2024 04:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File picture of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

File picture of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has decided against contesting the Lok Sabha election, she said on Wednesday, citing the lack of “money to contest” the poll and her inability to meet the “winnability criteria” in southern States such as Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu that she could have considered battling from.

The Minister, in her second term in the Rajya Sabha, had been sounded out by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s top brass to consider a Lok Sabha candidature in the upcoming election, along with some of her Upper House cabinet colleagues such as Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Environment and Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav.

Also read: Lok Sabha elections 2024 Live Updates - March 28

‘Winnability criteria’

Responding to a query on whether she would contest the election, which begins on April 19, Ms. Sitharaman said: “No. The party did ask me but after thinking about it for a week or ten days, I said maybe not… My party president did ask me, ‘Would you like to contest from somewhere in the south, the option is Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh’.”

“But I don’t have that kind of money to contest. I also have a problem, because whether it’s Andhra or Tamil Nadu, it’s also going to be a question of various other winnability criteria that they use — are you from this community, are you from this religion… I said, ‘No, I don’t think I am going to be able to do it’,” she said, at an event hosted by Times Now.

“The party was graceful enough — and I am very grateful — to accept my arguments, and say: ‘Chalo, you won’t. It’s alright.’ So I am not contesting,” said the Minister, whose current Rajya Sabha tenure will end in June 2028.

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