Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday that she will not contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, although the Bharatiya Janata Party asked her if she wanted to be a candidate.

“I don’t have that kind of money to contest,” she said at the Times Now Summit 2024.

Sitharaman said that BJP chief JP Nadda asked her if she wanted to contest the election from Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh, but that she would face questions of “winnability” in both states. “It’s also going to be a question of various other winnability criteria that they use – are you from this community or are you from that religion,” she said. “I said no, I don’t think I am going to be able to do it.'“

The finance minister said: “I am very grateful that they accepted my argument…So I am not contesting.”

Sitharaman has been a Rajya Sabha MP since 2014. For the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the BJP has fielded several Union ministers who are currently members of the Rajya Sabha – including Piyush Goyal from Mumbai North, Sarbananda Sonowal from Dibrugarh and Rajeev Chandrasekhar from Thiruvananthapuram.

Sitharaman has been the finance minister since May 2019, when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government won its second term. In the Modi government’s first term, she served as the defence minister from September 2017 to May 2019.