Expected to be flanked by most top leaders of opposition parties in order to send a message of unity, Meira Kumar will file her nomination for the Presidential election on June 28, the last date. She will start her campaign from Delhi, which she had represented as an MP from Karol Bagh Lok Sabha constituency twice — in 1996 and 1998.
With the Opposition projecting the election as an “ideological battle” where all secular parties are “united”, Kumar will begin with a prayer at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat, sources in the Opposition said.
“Top leaders of all opposition parties will be present when Kumar files her nomination. She is not the candidate of just Congress —she is a nominee of the entire Opposition,” said a Congress general secretary who took part in a special meeting of Congress general secretaries, held at AICC headquarters in Delhi, on Friday night.
To achieve that, besides Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury is likely to be in touch with top leaders of other parties to ensure their presence and send out a message of larger opposition unity. This, sources said, is especially significant after JD(U) suddenly broke ranks to back the NDA and jolted the unity being attempted over the last two months.
Friday’s AICC meeting, which went on for nearly two hours until 9 pm, was attended by party president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardan Dwivedi, K C Vengopal, B K Hariprasad, Digvijaya Singh, Avinash Pandey, and AICC communication department chairman Randeep Surjewala.
A decision was taken to ask all Congress MPs — from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha — to be present at the Congress Parliamentary Party office in Parliament House before 11 am on Wednesday, it is learnt.
Congress secretary Manicka Tagore, said to be close to Rahul Gandhi, it was decided, will get signatures of senior DMK leaders on Kumar’s nomination papers.
Although Kovind’s victory is almost a foregone conclusion, given his clear lead, Opposition leaders expect Kumar to get maximum media attention by starting her election campaign in Delhi. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are also likely to feature in her campaign, and were discussed in Friday’s AICC meeting.