HYDERABAD: Asserting that she is fighting an "ideological battle" in the presidential polls, Opposition nominee Meira Kumar today said the election should not be seen as a "dalit versus dalit" contest.
"This is 2017, in which we live. For our supreme position, if we are still talking about dalit versus dalit, we should look within ourselves and decide what kind of a mindset we have," she told reporters here.
"Do we have a mindset which is matching the modern times, which is matching the progress that we envisage for our country," she said.
Though the election was initially described as a contest between two dalit candidates, there has been a change since the campaign began, she said.
She said she is fighting an "ideological battle" in this election.
"This presidential election is going to be a powerful articulation of the value system which has been held close ... which is now under threat," she said.
The country has achieved tremendous progress in various sectors, but the "fundamental issue" still remains to be ... the concern showed for disadvantaged sections, she said.
"No matter how much progress we make, but the fundamental issue is how much we respect the dalits, the fundamental issue is how much we do for the rights of the poor ...," she said.
Ruing the recent incidents of lynchings in the country over suspicions of cow slaughtering or beef eating, she said the "atmosphere of fear" prevailing in the country must come to an end.
"It is extremely unfortunate. It pains me and pains all of us, these instances of lynching. We have to come to an understanding and reach a consensus. Because, this atmosphere cannot go on," she said.
"There is so much of fear about what one should eat.
There is fear about what one should say. I am also fighting for freedom of expression, freedom of press ...," she said.
Kumar said she is "not alone" in the fight and that she has the support of a number of parties and also a large number of countrymen.
"Not just the parties, what we stand for has the support of maximum number of my countrymen and women ... I think I stand on a very solid ground," she said.
Kumar said she has written to all the electors seeking vote for her as per their "conscience."
Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy said they have left a message at Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's office, saying that Kumar would like to speak to him.
The ruling TRS has already declared support to NDA's nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
As part of her campaign, Kumar met MLAs and MPs of her Congress party and those of the Left in Telangana, besides some intellectuals.