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Presidential Election: Opposition Pits Meira Kumar Against NDA's Ram Nath Kovind

Kumar said she has requested the members of the collegium to heed the "inner voice of their conscience" as it is "pure and powerful".  (Photo: Reuters)

Kumar said she has requested the members of the collegium to heed the "inner voice of their conscience" as it is "pure and powerful". (Photo: Reuters)

The Opposition parties on Thursday declared the name of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their Presidential candidate.

New Delhi: The Opposition parties on Thursday declared the name of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their Presidential candidate against NDA's Ram Nath Kovind. The Opposition was jolted by the decision of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he decided to back the National Democratic Alliance's candidate on Wednesday.

However, Congress President Sonia Gandhi categorically denied that she was upset with Nitish over his decision to back Ram Nath Kovind. Sonia also exhorted all the political parties to support Meira's candidature.

Opposition leaders on Thursday held a press conference and declared Meira Kumar's name, which was "proposed unanimously". Senior Congress Leader Gulam Nabi Azad said that Opposition backed Meira Kumar for the post of President unanimously. "Daughter of freedom fighter Jagjivan Ram, Meira Kumar is an experienced leader and has served in various capacities."

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The Opposition parties, in a meeting on Thursday, discussed the names of Meira Kumar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and Prakash Ambedkar. The left parties were reported to be rooting for Prakash Ambedkar, a former Member of Parliament and grandson of BR Ambedkar. But all the leaders finally agreed on Meira's name. The five-time Member of Parliament, first woman Lok Sabha Speaker from 2009 to 2014, Meira was elected unopposed in 2009.




With Opposition fielding a candidate, a contest is likely on the cards. The Bharatiya Janata Party had sprung a surprise a few days ago when it broke from tradition to field a Dalit candidate, Ram Nath Kovind.

The Opposition was quick to communicate its disapproval of Kovind's candidature, saying they were not taken on board. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that there were better and more known Dalit leaders than Ram Nath Kovind.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, however, launched a scathing attack on his ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, saying he had made a "historical mistake" by supporting the NDA candidate.

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"Nitish had informed me of his decision over the phone. I advised him not to support Kovind. I don't know what happened after that. Now, everybody knows what he has done. He was pitching for Opposition's unity, and it's he who backtracked," Yadav said, adding "Nitish and I joined hands to keep the anti-secular forces at bay. The alliance stays."

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, declaring support for Meira, said that it doesn't matter if the BJP has the majority. "Meira Kumar is a strong candidate... We will give our support to Meira Kumar," he said.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Satish Chandra Mishra extended his party's support to Meira, saying that his party supremo had made it clear that she will support a common Opposition candidate if he/she is better, more eligible, and credible for the top post.

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