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Meira Kumar banks on conscience votes to win prez poll, hopes to do a VV Giri

Meira Kumar agreed NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind was ahead in the numbers game to win the presidential election. But conscience votes could help her achieve what VV Giri had done as an independent candidate.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 10:21 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Meira Kumar,Ram Nath Kovind,VV Giri
UPA presidential candidate Meira Kumar felicitated with traditional Assamese hat in Guwahati.(PTI Photo)

Former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, the Congress candidate for the presidential race, is banking on “conscience votes” to repeat history.

Varahgri Venkata Giri, India’s fourth president, was the only independent candidate to be elected President in 1969. He had defeated Congress nominee Neelam Sanjiva Reddy to succeed Zakir Hussain.

Reddy went on to become the sixth President in 1977.

“This presidential election is not a contest of numbers but a vote of idealism and conscience,” Kumar said in Guwahati on Wednesday evening at a meeting with MLAs of five north-eastern states belonging to Congress and regional parties.

Kumar agreed NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind was ahead in the numbers game. But conscience votes could help her achieve what Giri had achieved as an independent candidate, she felt.

She said legislators and MPs of 17 national and regional parties apart from the Congress have backed her candidature.

They included the legislators of the Meghalaya-based United Democratic Party (UDP), which in principle is a constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party-helmed North East Democratic Alliance.

Senior UDP leader and former Meghalaya chief minister Donkupar Roy attended the get-together with Kumar. But he said he had merely accepted the invitation of state chief minister Mukul Sangma.

Most of the MLAs from Congress-ruled Mizoram and Sikkim Democratic Front-ruled Sikkim attended the meeting, as did some non-Congress MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Congress has 30 MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya assembly. The regional parties – some like National People’s Party aligned with NDA – have 17 legislators and the remaining 13 are independents.

Kumar is expected to get the votes of 34 Congress MLAs in the 40-member Mizoram assembly and of 50 Left Front legislators in the 60-member Tripura assembly.

In Assam, Congress has 24 legislators while 13 of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) have announced their support for Kumar.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha members from the region, the BJP and Congress have eight MPs each, AIUDF has three and CPI-M has two. Apart from one independent, the remaining MPs are either of pro-NDA regional parties or non-aligned.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 10:21 IST