The upcoming presidential election is not a fight of castes but a battle of ideology, Opposition candidate Meira Kumar said on Tuesday.
Kumar, the daughter of iconic Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram, rued that the polls were being seen as a “Dalit versus Dalit” contest. The caste system, she said, should be “buried deep down” in the earth.
At her first press conference after being nominated by 17 opposition parties against NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind, Kumar said, “We will undermine the importance of the president’s office if we say it’s a fight between people of particular caste.”
Both Kumar and Kovind are Dalit leaders. Kumar was the first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha while Kovind is the former governor of Bihar, her home state.
Even as the numbers are heavily tilted in favour of Kovind, Kumar refused to concede defeat. When asked if she is the losing candidate, Kumar hit back: “Why are you calling it a losing battle? I’m fighting and I might as well fight.”
“How can you predict the results of an election,” she retorted, adding that she will seek support from all parties including the allies of the BJP.
Kumar said she will start her campaign from Sabarmati, “as the place is associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his memories and ideology.”
The former Lok Sabha speaker also said she had not decided whether or not to appeal to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar to support her nomination.
Hinting at bias, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had posted a video of her Lok Sabha speech in 2013 in which then speaker Kumar is seemingly not extending “protection” against disruptions in the house.