Opposition parties on Thursday announced that former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar was their pick for the next president against NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 presidential election. The decision was taken at the opposition parties meeting headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
Meira Kumar met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday. Though there was no official word about the meeting, it was widely believed that Meira Kumar could be the opposition’s choice.
The announcement came after the opposition seemingly suffered a big blow with JD-U deciding to back Kovind.
Like Kovind, Meira Kumar belongs to the Dalit community. Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985 when she joined Congress. She was the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha and also has been a Union Minister.
Kumar was the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009. In 2009, she also had a stint as a member of the cabinet as Union Minister for Water Resources, following which she went on to become the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
BSP Chief Mayawati has expressed their support to Kumar. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said she would support a woman candidate. After the announcement, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said he would be requesting Nitish Kumar to review his decision and back the opposition candidate.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar proposed three names – Kumar, former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar, both Dalits from Maharashtra.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury put forward the names of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar.
JD (U) president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was won over with the BJP’s “smart move” and expressed “personal happiness” initially and later declared his support to the candidate as well. He also skipped the meeting called by Sonia Gandhi.