In her first press conference after being announced as the Opposition nominee for the July 17 presidential election, Meira Kumar thanked the 17 Opposition parties for unanimously choosing her as their candidate and said that they united under a common ideology. Briefing the press at Delhi’s constitution club, Kumar said: “The unity of coming together of these political parties is based on their firm ideological position.”
Saying that democratic values, equality and social justice are close to her hear, Meira added that she will be fighting the elections on this ideological plank. Kumar said she will begin her campaign from Gujarat’s Sabarmati Ashram.
When asked about Nitish Kumar’s JDU supporting the NDA pick Ram Nath Kovind, Meira Kumar said she has written to all the regional leaders requesting for their support and said “one should listen to their inner voice of their conscience.”
On the presidential election being painted as a Dalit vs Dalit battle, Kumar said this reflects the mindset of the society where a candidate’s caste takes precedence over his/her merits. “This is being debated at many places that two Dalits are facing each other for the country’s highest position. Samaj ke asliyat samne arahe hai…. There has always been a debate on a candidate’s merits and demerits but never on their caste, but when a Dalit stands then all these take a back seat. Caste needs to be buried and the society needs to move forward,” she said.
Speaking about Sushma Swaraj, who accused her of being partisan during her tenure as Lok Sabha Speaker, Kumar said: “When I was the Lok Sabha speaker everyone — be it from the government or those in opposition — have appreciated my work. Nobody accused me of being partisan in the way I conducted the House.”
On the alleged atrocities against Dalits, she said: “We should hang our heads in shame even if there is one incident of violence against Dalits or weaker sections. This is my fight, I have said in the beginning that I am fighting for this ideology: destruction of the caste system.”
When asked about BSP’s Mayawati supporting her candidature on the account of her caste, Kumar said: This is the election for the highest position in the land. Although the position is apolitical, the process is political. There shouldn’t be any one-upmanship of caste, I don’t think one’s caste identity must play a role.”