Oppositions Presidential Candidate and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar announced her country-wide tour from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.
Addressing her first press conference after being named as opposition’s nominee to contest the July 17 presidential election, Meira Kumar thanked all the 17 Opposition parties for unanimously choosing her.
“The unity of coming together of these political parties is based on their firm ideological position,” she said.
On the presidential election being painted as a Dalit vs Dalit battle, Kumar said this reflects the mindset of the society where a candidate’s caste takes precedence over his/her merits.
“Presidential poll being seen as Dalit vs Dalit contest, such a system has to be buried. I will face the presidential polls on plank of democratic values, inclusiveness, end of poverty, destruction of caste structure,” said Meira Kumar
Asked about alleged attacks on Dalits in the recent past, she said, “It is quite shameful.”
The former Lok Sabha speaker, chosen as the opposition’s candidate to contest against BJP’s nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election next month, said she had not decided whether or not to appeal to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar to support her nomination.
Speaking about External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accusing her of being partisan during her tenure as Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar said that nobody accused me of being partisan in the way I conducted the House while she was in the chair.
United opposition unanimously decided to field Meira Kumar, a Dalit, as its joint candidate for the presidential election against NDA’s Dalit activist Ram Nath Kovind, with 17 parties supporting the former Lok Sabha speaker’s candidature.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the 17 non-NDA parties in Parliament House Library, with the leaders endorsing the name of the former minister and diplomat, whose father, ex-deputy aPrime Minister Jagjivan Ram, was often hailed as one of the tallest dalit leaders in the country.