Ideologies matter, not caste identities: Meira

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 27, 2017

Meira Kumar, Opposition candidate for President

17-party Opposition’s presidential nominee to begin her campaign from Sabarmati Ashram

The Presidential candidate of 17 Opposition parties, Meira Kumar reiterated on Tuesday that she is engaged in an “ideological fight” against the ruling combine’s Ram Nath Kovind.

Talking to reporters at the Constitution Club here, a day before she submits her nomination papers, the former Speaker said “caste identity” should never be a parameter in the Presidential elections. She said she would launch her campaign from the Sabarmati Ashram as it would provide her the strength to fight the ideological battle.

Meira had asked all members of the electoral college, which comprises elected MPs and MLAs, to vote in accordance with their conscience. She said she had also written to JD(U) President and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has declared his support for Kovind, to take a decision based on ideology.

“Democratic values, inclusiveness, social justice, freedom of the press, transparency end of poverty, destruction of caste structure are some of those cherished values which form important component of this ideology. This ideology is very close to my heart. For this very reason in coming election, this will be the plank on which I will contest,” she claimed.

Responding to a question on the projection of the social identity of both candidates, Kumar said such unfortunate circumstances come about when the candidates are Dalits. “I don’t want that this election for the top position in the country should be contested on the basis of caste. We are fighting this on the basis of ideology,” she said and added: “But when Dalits contest, their caste is being discussed and their virtues become subordinate. So I can clearly see how society is thinking in 2017. I want that we should wrap caste and bury it deep inside the ground and our society should move forward.”

She questioned the view of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu that the election for the top post should not be fought on ideological basis. “Although its process of electing is political, the post itself is apolitical,” she said.

The former Speaker said there is an attempt to tarnish her image by the ruling side with personalised attacks. On External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s charge that Meira was not impartial as Speaker, she said her performance as Speaker was lauded by all parties.

She said the welfare measures to Dalits and tribals such as the SC-ST sub plan have not been functioning well of late. She said even a single attack against Dalit should be condemned. “We should hang our heads in shame, even if there is one incident of violence against Dalits. Even today in our country, atrocities are being committed on Dalits, the oppressed and weaker sections... my fight is against that,” Kumar added.

Published on June 27, 2017
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