Opposition parties have finally decided to field Congress loyalist Meira Kumar as their candidate for the presidential elections. She is pitted against NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind. Kumar has been a five-time Member of Parliament. In 2009, she was elected as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, replacing Somnath Chaterjee. Many claimed that her election was a political move by the Congress Party, pushing their image as pro-women, while also supporting Dalit rights. Kumar went on to hold the role till 2014. Kumar was a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment during Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government. She worked with the Indian Foreign Service.
Born in 1945 in Patna, the 72-year-old Meira holds an L.L.B degree and a Masters in English Literature. In 1973, she joined the Indian Foreign Service and went on to work in the embassies of U.K., Spain and Mauritius. Born to Indrani Devi (who was a freedom fighter) and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Jagjivan Ram (a notable Dalit activist), Meira stepped into politics in 1985, with an intention to take her father’s political legacy forward.
In the 11th and 12th Lok Sabha, Kumar contested from Karol Bagh’s constituency in New Delhi and became the Member of Parliament. It was in 2004 that she was absorbed into the Congress-led UPA government as a Cabinet minister. During Dr. Manmohan Singh’s second term, she served as the Union Minister for Water Resources. Based in New Delhi, Kumar is married to lawyer, Manjul Kumar.