To counter the NDA’s presidential candidate, the Opposition fielded former Lok Sabha speaker, Meira Kumar as its pick for the elections to be held on July 17. In response, Kumar said that she was happy that she was “unanimously selected as Opposition’s Presidential nominee by 17 political parties.” She was first woman to hold the post of a Speaker in the Lok Sabha. Kumar, who is a Dalit, has been considered by many as a strategic ploy pulled by the Opposition, as she is pitted against the NDA candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, who is a Dalit activist. He was the Governor of Bihar from 2015 to 2017.
The Opposition has faced considerable criticism from the BJP. Reacting to Kumar’s selection, BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said, “When the Congress had the opportunity to elect a Dalit president when they were in power they did not find Meira Kumar suitable. But when the defeat of the opposition candidate is certain they have fielded her as a scapegoat. This clearly shows that it has no commitment to elect leaders from marginalised sections to high offices and had decided to field her purely done as a token exercise.”
The Opposition has emerged defending its decision, clarifying that Kumar was chosen solely on the basis of her credentials and not her caste. In an interview with BBC Hindi, Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “If you will look at [Meira Kumar] only through the narrow lens of caste, it will not only be unfair towards her or the Dalit community, but it will be unfair towards the citizens, particularly the women of this country.”
Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and said, “Meira Kumar: ex-IFS officer, Union Minister for 9 yrs, Parliamentary experience of 25 yrs, Lok Sabha Speaker 5 yrs. It’s about qualifications!”
Here are some more tweets supporting Kumar’s qualifications: