On behalf of opposition parties, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, 22 June, announced former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as the Opposition’s Presidential candidate for the upcoming Presidential election.
Kumar, a five-time Member of Parliament, was elected unopposed as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha and served from 2009 to 2014. She is a lawyer and a former diplomat.
The 2017 Indian Presidential election will be held on 17 July 2017; counting will take place on 20 July. The President is elected indirectly by the people through the people’s representatives in Parliament and the various state Assemblies.
If Kumar wins the election, she would become the second woman President of India.
The candidate of the NDA is Ram Nath Kovind. To know more about him, click here.
Who is Meira Kumar?
Meira Kumar was born in Arrah district, Bihar to the former Deputy Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader, Jagjivan Ram, and a freedom fighter, Indrani Devi.
She attended the Welham Girls School, Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ Public School in Jaipur. She studied at Banasthali Vidyapith for a short duration. She completed her M.A and L.L.B. at Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University. She also received an honorary doctorate from Banasthali Vidyapith in 2010.
She joined the Indian Foreign Services in 1970 and had the opportunity to travel and work in different countries.
It was in 1985 that Kumar entered electoral politics. Her entry was no less dramatic as she won from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh defeating heavyweights like Ram Bilas Paswan and Mayawati.
She was a member of the eighth, eleventh and twelfth Lok Sabha from Karol Bagh in New Delhi.
She has been in charge of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009 under the Congress-led government.
In 2009, she was briefly inducted as the member of the cabinet as Union Minister for Water Resources.
Upon being nominated for the position of Speaker, Kumar submitted her resignation three days after assuming ministerial office. She was elected the Speaker of Lok Sabha, thereby becoming the first woman speaker of the country. She served as the Speaker from 2009 to 2014.
In the 2014 general election, Kumar contested and lost to Chhedi Paswan from Sasaram by a margin of 63,327 votes
The decision to make Kumar the Presidential candidate
In a meeting of the 17 Opposition parties in the Parliament House Library, the decision was taken to make Meira Kumar their chosen candidate.
Prominent among those who attended the meeting were Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ahmed Patel, besides NCP’s Sharad Pawar and RJD’s Lalu Prasad.
The the other main parties that were present at the meeting were the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and National Conference.
The leaders of Trinamool, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party were not present for this meeting. However, their representatives were.
Other parties representatives present at the meeting included JD-S, RSP, JMM, Kerala Congress, IUML and the AIUDF of Assam.
Janata Dal(U), had decided to back BJP’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and subsequently skipped the meeting. But Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh attended, making up the numbers.