New Delhi/Shillong, June 20 Former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A. Sangma Wednesday quit the NCP, saying he was disappointed by his party's reluctance to back his presidential candidature.
Speaking to IANS in Shillong from New Delhi, Sangma said: "The disinclination of the NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country.
"I cannot ignore the feelings of the tribals that Raisina Hill should not continue to be a distant dream for them," he said, referring to the area in the heart of the capital where the Rashtrapati Bhavan is located.
"I have resigned accordingly, without any intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership," Sangma told IANS.
The Garo tribal leader from Meghalaya said he had no option but to quit the NCP, which he founded in 1999 along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar after breaking away from the Congress.
The NCP said it would accept his resignation. "The resignation will be accepted," party chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said without elaboration.
The first word of Sangma's action came from Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, who announced that the NCP leader was set to leave his party.
Swamy, who described the former speaker as a close friend, said Sangma invited him to his house to say that he felt insulted after hearing various rumours about him.
"He told me he is resigning (because) his self-respect has to be protected," Swamy told the media.
Swamy quoted Sangma as saying there was pressure on the NCP since he was declared the presidential candidate of Chief Ministers J. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and Naveen Patnaik of Odisha.
The NCP has repeatedly said that Sangma would abide by its decision to back United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and quit the presidential race.
Swamy alleged that "leaks" from Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence insinuated that Sangma would be made India's envoy to Mauritius if he withdrew from the presidential race.
"He has resigned to protect his self respect, not because he anticipates he will be made the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) candidate," the Janata Party leader said.
"There are attempts to humiliate him," he said.
Describing him as a nationalist from the northeast and a bright (Lok Sabha) speaker, Swamy said: "It is a matter of great regret that a person like him is sought to be insulted."
Swamy declined to say if Sangma would be a candidate of the NDA, merely saying a meeting of the alliance was scheduled Wednesday evening at BJP leader L.K. Advani's residence.
Purno Sangma also told IANS: "I have received promises of support from senior leaders of non-Congress parties, including those in the NDA."
He said he had been a founder member of the NCP. "I believe that I have also worked hard for building up the base of the party in several parts of India.
"Indeed the national status of the party has been significant due to the mass support from among the tribals who constitute 100 million of our population and among whom I have ceaselessly worked.
"It is in gratitude for the support of the tribals that I have accepted the candidature proposed by the Tribal Forum of India," he said.
In Shillong, Sangma's son Conrad Sangma, who is also from the NCP and heads the opposition in the Meghalaya assembly, told IANS: "My father has resigned because he does not want conflict of interest in the party. My father does not want to put the party in an awkward position."