Independent candidate Ram Jethmalani on Friday announced withdrawal from the contest against Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow in the coming Lok Sabha elections but would campaign in support of
Congress nominee Akhilesh Das.
The announcement of his withdrawal from the fray comes in the wake of Vajpayee's appeal to him on Wednesday but the statement issued by Jethmalani does not make any reference to it.
While Jethmalani pledged full support to the Congress candidate in Lucknow, he also expressed the hope that Prime Minister would implement the promises made to him in the statement he made in Jammu.
In a press release circulated by his office, Jethmalani, who is away in London for treatment of his son, said "due to a sudden family problem, I had to leave the scene of battle and come away to London. Fortunately the situation is not as serious as it initially appeared and I hope to resume the battle in a few days.
"My withdrawal and the nomination of my friend Akhilesh Das, the Congress candidate, became inevitable due to the uncertainty that prevailed on the last day of nominations."
The noted lawyer said he would now only campaign against the policies and actions which "endanger the unity and progress of India and pose a threat to the welfare and security of minorities.
"I will lend full support to Akhilesh Das and other candidates who share my ideology in any part of India," he said.
Jethmalani also hoped the promises implicit in the Prime Minister's statement "are sincere and will be performed".
On Wednesday, Vajpayee in his appeal to Jethmalani had cited 40 years of friendship between them and asked him to reconsider his decision to contest against him in Lucknow.
In his statement the Prime Minister had also referred to Jethmalani's commitment to political and social causes, including Jammu and Kashmir and Indo-Pak relations, and that his advice in these matters will be valued.