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The opposition’s candidate for the presidential elections, Meira Kumar said on Wednesday that the election was being fought on ideology and that there has been an attack on the tradition of secularism and respect for other religions. Kumar, in Raipur to meet with members of the Congress legislature of Chhattisgarh also said that while in previous elections, aspects of candidates such as their achievments or capabilities were looked at, it saddened her that this election had been reduced to “dalit banaam dalit” like never before.
In a scathing attack on the present government, Kumar said that previous presidential elections had never been fought on ideology before. “Ye kaunsi vichaardhaara hai jisko lekar hum chunaav lad rahe hai? Ye vo vichardhaara hai, ye vo siddhant hai, vo shashwat mulya hai, jo humein virasat mein mile hai, humaare purvajon se. Bharat ek bahudharmi desh hai, aur humaare saubhagya hai ki aise desh mein humaara janm hua hai. Jaha na keval hum humaare dharm ko maante hai, balki humein bataya jaata hai ki doosron ke dharm ki kaise izzat ki jaati hai…Aaj us vichardhaara par aaghat kiya jaa raha hai aur hum aise nahi hone denge,” she said. (What is this ideology that we are fighting for in this election? This is that ideology, that principle, those core values that have been given to us as inheritance from our forefathers. India is a multi religious country, and we are fortunate to have been born in such a country. Where we not only follow our faith, but we are told how to respect other religions. Today that ideology is being attacked and we will not let it happen.)
Kumar, who was flanked by senior Chhattisgarh congressmen said, “Lekin abhi hum dekh rahe hai ki daliton pe atyachar badh gaya hai, advisasiyon pe atyachaar badh gaya hai, jo kamzor log hai, unki kahi sunvai nahi ho rahi hai. Unke awaaz uthane ke liye, hum iss chunaav mein khade hai…Itihas rachne ka ek adbhut mauka hai, isse haath se na gavayein, varna aage vaali peedi poochegi ki jab aapke paas chunne ka raasta tha, toh aapne vo raasta kyu chuna jaha ek doosre ko dharm ke naam par, jaati ke naam par maar diya jaata hai. (But we are now seeing that there is an increase in attacks on dalits, on tribals, those who are from the weaker sections, they are not being listened to. This is a unique chance to make history, which must not be wasted, because the future generation will ask that when you had the chance, then why did you choose the path where people kill each other on the basis of religion or caste.)
Asked about the framing of the narrative of this election as dalit versus dalit, Kumar said that she was glad the “real face of society has come in front of us”, but filled with sadness that these discussions still take place. “Is chunaav ko agar dalit banaam dalit bana diya jaata hai, toh dukh hota hai. Isse pehle chunaav mein, candidates ke uplabdhiyon ka ullekh hua, unki yogyata ke baare mein baat hui, unki jaati ke baare mein kabhi nahi kaha gaya. Lekin jab Kovind ji aur hum khade ho gaye, to aur koi charcha nahi hai sivaye iske ki humaari jaati kya hai. Ye kaisi soch hai?,” she said. (It is sad when this election becomes dalit versus dalit. Before this in elections, the achievments of candidates were documented, their capabilities were talked about, their castes were never talked of. But when Kovind ji and I are standing, there is no other discussion other than what our caste is. What kind of thought is this?”