Meira banks on conscience vote for upset win in Prez poll, says it’s an ideological fight

The joint Presidential nominee of 17 opposition parties reached Patna on Thursday to marshal support for her candidature, ahead of the July 17 election for choosing Pranab Mukherjee’s successor in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 23:31 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Meira Kumar,Opposition Prez nominee,Bihar trip
Opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar meeting RJD and Congress leaders in Patna on Thursday. (AP Dube/HT photo)

PATNA Meira Kumar, the joint Presidential nominee of 17 opposition parties, gave a clear message on Thursday that presidential election, on July 17, was not all about numbers, as some people were trying to project it to be. Rather, it was a battle of two ideologies, which could go a long way in determining the course of the nation.

“When I hear people talking about the presidential poll as a Dalit vs Dalit fight, I feel hurt. It is the election for India’s highest office and it is high time we overcame the prejudices of caste, creed and class for the sake of progress and an egalitarian society,” she said.

Kumar said while many people were questioning her prospects on the basis of numbers, she had faith in ideology and inner voice of conscience of the electorate.

The former Lok Sabha speaker was speaking at a reception organized by the Bihar Congress in Patna, soon after she arrived here on a three day visit to marshal support for her candidature.

On Friday, Kumar will make a trip to Chandwa in Bhojpur district, the native village of her late father, former deputy prime minister Babu Jagjivan Ram.

All through her speech, she did not even refer to Bihar’s ruling grand alliance (GA) constituent, the JD-U or its president and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who have already decided to back NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the the July 17 election.

But Kumar admitted that the first call she received after her selection as the opposition Presidential nominee was from Lalu Prasad, chief of the RJD, which was also a GA constituent, like her own party, the Congress.

Prasad was not present at the function, as he had to go to Ranchi to appear before a court in a fodder scam case. But his two sons – deputy CM Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav, along with other RJD legislators, were present.

“This is an election that will have far-reaching implications as, for the first time, ideologies have taken precedence over individuals. I have written to all members of the electoral college that this was a historic occasion, as the nation is at a cross roads. One way was going towards religious divide and suppression of the poor, while another line was for the uplift of the deprived and a tolerant society,” she said.

She also cited the growing cow vigilantism as a sign of dangerous trend. “Can you imagine a person feeling threatened just because he or she is moving with a cow. Strange things are happening. Sooner we wake up, the better it will be and this can happen only through ideology,” she added.

Kumar said fighting for the oppressed was always a difficult task, as she had learnt from her late father.

“It has been ingrained in me since childhood that all religions need to be respected equally. In fact,this comes naturally in Bihar, which is a confluence of so many religions and which enlightened Gautam Budha and was a learning experience for Mahatma Gandhi”, she said.

She said it was a unique development that 17 political parties, which usually have differences on one issue or the other, came together on the issue of ideology to back her candidature.

Congress leaders Rajiv Shukla and CP Joshi said the the opposition joint candidate was way ahead of her rival in all spheres. “But what is more significant is that this election will determine the future course and direction of the opposition unity. There have been instances of surprises in the presidential poll in the past,” they said.

Deputy CM Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav said that this was just the second opportunity after Dr Rajendra Prasad to send someone from Bihar to the highest office and it should not be missed. “She is a woman, a Dalit, a competent leader, former minister and former Speaker,” he added.

Earlier, Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary, CLP leader Sadanand Singh and finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui (RJD), among others, assured Kumar that every vote from the two parties would go to her.

IN ACTION MODE The joint Presidential nominee of 17 Oppn parties is here to marshal support for her candidature, ahead of July 17 election

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 22:12 IST