Law, foreign service, politics: Know Oppn’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar
The Opposition parties on Thursday chose former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as their candidate to take on National Democratic Alliance’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the next month’s election.Updated: Jun 22, 2017, 18:58 IST
The BJP and Opposition candidates for the presidential polls due in July this year have many things in common. Both are politicians, Dalits, trained lawyers and born in the same year—1945.
Meira Kumar is from Bihar and Kovind, though born in neighbouring state Uttar Pradesh, has worked extensively in Bihar.
Born in Bihar’s Arrah district, Meira Kumar is the daughter of prominent Dalit leader and ex deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram, and freedom fighter, Indrani Devi.
Kumar has been law graduate and holds a Masters in English literature. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and served at embassies in Spain, United Kingdom and Mauritius.
Kumar quit IFS to enter electoral politics in 1985 and was elected from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, defeating political heavyweights such as Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati, two powerful Dalit leaders.
She was a member of the eighth, eleventh and twelfth Lok Sabhas from Karol Bagh in Delhi. She lost her seat in the BJP wave of 1999, but was able to get re-elected with a good majority from her father’s former constituency of Sasaram in Bihar in 2004 and 2009
She resigned from the Congress in 2002 citing differences with the party leadership only to rejoin it two years later.
In 2004, Meira was inducted into the Manmohan Singh cabinet, as Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
In 2009, Meira assumed charge as the Union Minister for Water Resources in the newly elected United Progressive Alliance government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh.
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 BJP’s Chhedi Paswan from her bastion Sasaram by a margin of 63,327 votes.
She is married to Manjul Kumar, a lawyer. The couple has three children.