India's opposition pitch Dalit for president

Saturday, 24 Jun, 2017

The Opposition on Thursday fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar against NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 presidential election.

"I have a lot of respect for MeiraKumar ji, but "Bihar ki beti" has been nominated only to lose", Nitish Kumar said. "I will meet Nitish Kumar and will continue to urge him to change his decision of supporting the NDA candidate", Lalu said after attending the Opposition meeting.

The RJD president, however, made it clear that the divergent paths taken by his party and the JD (U) would have no impact on the Grand Alliance government in Bihar headed by Kumar.

Asserting that there is nobody better suited for the post than Kovind, Naidu said, "Majority of the political parties have rallied behind Shri Ram Nath Kovind".

"It will be a historical mistake if Nitish does not rethink about his decision".

The Opposition's move to field Meira Kumar makes it a Dalit vs Dalit presidential polls. "We appeal to both the chief ministers of Odisha and Bihar to re-consider their decision and support a secular candidate like Meira Kumar".

As recalled, earlier on Wednesday, the Chief Minister announced his decision to support Kovind's candidacy saying the former Governor of Bihar had proven himself to be a man of great character and his contributions towards decision-making in Bihar could not be overlooked.

She also thanked the 17 opposition parties for supporting her candidature and said she is delighted by the opposition unity that represents the coming together of forces which have a strong ideological base.

Meira Kumar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 but resigned after being asked by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.

"I am thankful to all those who have supported me, will do everything to maintain the dignity of country's top post", Kovind said. "President of India is above politics", Kovind said. Most of these leaders were present during the May 26 luncheon meeting hosted by Sonia Gandhi at the same venue. The sources suggested that fielding a Congress candidate is something that will come in the way of bringing the JD (U) back to the Opposition flock notwithstanding her being from Bihar.

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leader D Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi and Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress were among those who participated in the deliberations.