Opposition Presidential nominee Meira Kumar on Friday said it’s high time for the government to use its mandate to prevent incidents of lynching.
“It is very disturbing that every morning, when I pick up the newspapers… I only get to read news of innocent people getting killed and lynched… killing of a 16-year-old on the streets, men getting lynched in their homes in daylight,” she said, addressing the media in Mumbai.
The senior Congress leader said, “I take this opportunity to urge the Centre to use its mandate in the Lok Sabha to stop lynching of youths accused to be in possession of beef. It’s a strong government, with a huge majority. It’s time for them to take firm steps rather than make statements.”
Kumar said that narrow-mindedness and religious intolerance prevailed in the country. “It is very upsetting and unfortunate that a country like India, where everything is improving… one thing is still backward and that is the people’s thinking, their mindset. Even now we have a mentality, which is narrow and dividing. This election is not just any contest but a very strong articulation of our ideology, what we stand for. I am contesting this election with great confidence,” she said.
When asked if this election has become a Dalit versus Dalit contest, Kumar said that in the previous elections, people never discussed caste of the candidates but their experience, intellect and talent.
“I am happy that today we talk about caste issues openly, but is this election only about Dalit versus Dalit? Do I and Ramnath Kovind not have any other qualities? We should rather talk about development. Never before this have I heard about caste of a Presidential candidate being discussed so widely,” Kumar said.
Replying to a query on her stand on reservations, the Congress veteran said she has always been opposing caste reservation and added that it has been prevalent since 5,000 years. “Since thousands of years, specific work is allotted to people belonging to a specific caste. Why can a person belonging to just one caste do puja in mandirs, and member of another caste can only be a cobbler? First this reservation should stop. We will then talk about the other reservation,” she added.
Kumar, who was in Mumbai as part of her preparations for the Presidential elections scheduled next month, also met legislators of the Congress and its allies. During her visit on Friday, first to Ahmedabad in the morning and then to Mumbai, Kumar made an emotional appeal to legislators of all parties to follow their conscience and support her. She said, “I have written to the MPs and MLAs of all parties to understand the seriousness of the situation and use this opportunity to create history. This is the time when they need to listen to the conscience for the sake of the country and its future.”