Playing the Dalit card like the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday (June 22) announced the name of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as the presidential nominee of opposition parties.
This came a few days after the BJP on Monday (June 19) named Bihar Governor and Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate.
Pertinently, President Pranab Mukherjee’s term will end on July 24.
The Election Commission has announced that the presidential polls will be held on July 17. Counting of votes will be done on July 20.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Congress’ presidential candidate Meira Kumar:
1. Meira Kumar was born on March 31, 1945, at Arrah district in Bihar, Her father was former Deputy Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram. Her mother Indrani Devi was a freedom fighter.
2. She completed her schooling from Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School in Jaipur.
3. After studying for a short time at Banasthali Vidyapith in Rajasthan, Meira Kumar completed her M.A and L.L.B. from Indraprastha College for Women and Miranda House, Delhi University.
4. In 2010, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Banasthali Vidyapith.
5. Meira Kumar can speak Spanish fluently.
6. It was in 1985 that Meira Kumar left IFS to pursue her career in politics. She joined Congress and won the elections from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, defeating heavyweight Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janshakti Party) and Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party).
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7. She is a five-time Member of Parliament. Before being a member of the 15th Lok Sabha, she was elected to the 8th, 11th, 12th and 14th Lok Sabha.
8. Meira Kumar was the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha. She was elected unopposed for the term 2009-2014.
9. She even served as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet from 2004-2009.
10. She contested the 2014 General Elections from Sasaram constituency in Bihar. But she lost to BJP leader Chhedi Paswan by a margin of 63,327 votes.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.