Its Kovind vs Meira for July 17 Presidential poll

June 22, 2017 10:09 PM

New Delhi : Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar of the Congress was today chosen as the opposition's joint candidate against NDA's Ram Nath Kovind in a 'Dalit vs Dalit' Presidential battle that saw Bihar's ruling alliance divided and the BSP getting out of a dilemma.

Though the numbers in the electoral college were stacked in favour of Kovind making his election as the 14th President a virtual certainty, the Congress-led opposition decided to put up a fight and also plumped for a Dalit face for the July 17 polls. Both Kovind and Kumar are aged 72.

Kumar is a former diplomat and daughter of the late Dalit icon Jagjivan Ram. With Kovind also being a Dalit, this makes it a Dalit vs Dalit presidential contest. "We have decided to field the name of Meira Kumar for the presidential election... We do hope that other parties also join us," Sonia Gandhi said. Her party colleague, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Kumar was a unanimous choice.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar proposed three names -- Kumar, former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar, both Dalits from Maharashtra. The decision to field Kumar was taken at a meeting of 17 non-NDA parties in Parliament House Library with the leaders unanimously endorsing the name of the diplomat-turned- politician.

"We have 17 opposition leaders present here and all of us have decided to jointly field Meira Kumar, former Union Minister and former Speaker of Lok Sabha, as a candidate for the forthcoming election for the President of India," Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced after the meeting.

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