The Opposition’s Presidential candidate, Meira Kumar, will begin her election campaign outside Delhi in BJP-ruled Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this month-end. After a tour of the southern states until July 5, the former Lok Sabha Speaker will go to Bihar, where differences have surfaced between the Grand Alliance partners over CM Nitish Kumar’s support to NDA Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
Kumar will begin her campaign in Patna on July 6, the death anniversary of Congress leader and her father Babu Jagjivan Ram. She will file her nomination on June 28 after a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, Raj Ghat, and Jagjivan Ram’s memorial, Samta Sthal, in Delhi.
Kumar is scheduled to begin her campaign immediately after the scrutiny of nominations on June 29.
Although Kovind’s victory in the Presidential election is virtually a foregone conclusion, the Opposition is keen to convey the message of an ideological fight.
A day after Nitish announced his support for Kovind, dealing a blow to the Opposition’s plan of putting up a joint candidate to take on the BJP, 17 parties led by the Congress announced Meira Kumar’s candidature on June 22, projecting her as ‘Bihar Ki Beti’. The move was apparently aimed at embarrassing Nitish, who had chosen to support Kovind, a non-Jatav Dalit from Uttar Pradesh, citing his good conduct as the Governor of Bihar. Nitish had played on the Bihari versus bahari (Bihari versus outsiders) theme to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extensive campaigning in the state before the 2015 Assembly elections.
When Meira Kumar’s candidature was announced, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had given advised Nitish to “mend this historical blunder”.
Other opposition parties are now hoping for a division in Nitish’s JD(U) during the Presidential election. On Sunday, Kumar had urged MPs and MLAs to rise above political interests and vote according to their conscience.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Kumar was finalising her campaign and would share it “very shortly”. Making her debut on Twitter today, Kumar also asked people to follow her on her official Facebook account for updates on the Presidential election.