NEW DELHI: While thanking 17 political parties for backing her for the top constitutional post, Meira Kumar has said she would kick start her presidential poll campaign from Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.
Describing the presidential fight between her and NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind as a “battle of ideologies” and not a “Dalit versus Dalit” fight as was being out projected, the former Lok Sabha Speaker said she would contest the election on the basis of ideology and not caste. She stressed that her plank would be the destruction of the caste structure and protection of democratic values.
“I don’t want that this election for the top position in the country be contested on the basis of caste. No countryman would want that. We are fighting this on the basis of ideology,” said the daughter of renowned Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram.
Though she is yet to file her nomination papers, she has already appealed to lawmakers who elect the President to follow their “inner conscience” when voting. Meira Kumar is likely to start her campaign from June 30 from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat after scrutiny of her nomination.
She will file her papers on Wednesday in the presence of top Opposition leaders.
Speaking to the media here, Meira Kumar said, “This unity is based on their firm ideological positions, democratic values, inclusiveness, social justice, freedom of press, transparency, ending of poverty, destruction of caste structure as some of the cherished values which form an important component of this ideology.
“This ideology is very close to my heart. In the coming election, this will be my plank on which I will contest.” Meira Kumar added that never once was caste discussed in earlier presidential contests. What was up for discussion instead was the candidate’s virtues, eligibility and achievements.
“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.” Referring to the perception that her selection was on the basis of her caste, she said this was the election for the highest position in the land. And caste had no role in it.
With Kovind likely to file one more nomination paper on Wednesday, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu has ruled out himself from the vice presidential election race.
With the Presidential election approaching, the BJP also joined the war of words between the JD(U) and Congress, saying that there is natural admiration between the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Sources in the BJP said Naidu would submit another set of nomination papers on behalf of Kovind on Wednesday, which is also the last date for filing of nominations. The joint candidate put up by the Opposition Meira Kumar is also slated to file her nomination papers on Wednesday. Kovind had on June 23 had filed three sets of nomination papers.
After wrapping up his visits to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Kovind in the company of Naidu would be leaving for Srinagar on Wednesday, while Union Minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj would join him for his visit to Panchkula for meeting with legislators from Punjab and Haryana.
Naidu said he would not be a candidate for the vice president’s post even if compelled since he likes being with the people. He added that he is not keen for ceremonial positions and would continue serving the people.