The Opposition on Thursday fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar against NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 presidential election. Seventeen Opposition parties met at the Parliament library to deliberate on a consensus candidate and unanimously picked Kumar as their nominee. Announcing her candidature at a press conference in Delhi, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said, “Opposition parties have unanimously proposed the name of Meira Kumar for the upcoming Rashtrapathi Election…”
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.
After she was nominated, several opposition parties supported her. Following are the opposition parties that backed her candidature:
TMC: Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee spoke to Sonia Gandhi from The Netherlands and conveyed to her that she was agreeable to Meira Kumar’s candidature.
CPM: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “Between the other four names we considered — Meira Kumar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Bhalchandra Mungekar and Prakash Ambedkar — the point was we chose a name on which everyone agreed. It was an unanimous choice of all the Opposition parties and we have appealed to others in the opposition to support her.”
RJD: RJD’s Lalu Prasad called Nitish Kumar’s decision a “historic blunder” and “wrong decision.” He said he would meet the Bihar Chief Minister and “urge him to review his decision… I will tell him not to commit a historic blunder”. He called Meira Kumar “Bihar ki beti” (daughter of Bihar).
BSP: BSP chief Mayawati supported Meira Kumar, saying, “In new circumstances, it is clear from the comparison of both candidates that UPA and other Opposition parties’ nominee Meira Kumar is more popular and able than the NDA’s candidate. This is why our party declares its support for Meira Kumar for the post of President.”
SP: Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said that Meira Kumar is a better candidate than NDA Government’s presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind. “Her (Meira Kumar) stature is high and has been the speaker, minister and Lok Sabha member. Being the daughter of Babu Jagjivan Ram, the entire country knows her well. The opposition candidate is better than the candidate announced by the government,” said Yadav. “The Opposition has to play the role of being an opposition. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced its candidate and it has the majority also but even the opposition has brought forward a good candidate,” he added.
The election for the next President of India is to be held on July 17 as President Pranab Mukherjee will demit the office on July 24. The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued the notification in this regard and the process of the nomination has started that will continue till June 28.