Presidential election 2017: With all eyes in the national capital, parliamentarians have started casting their votes to elect the 14th President of India. The counting of the votes will take place on July 20 and the newly elected President would assume office only after Pranab Mukherjee’s term which end on July 24. After both NDA and the Congress-led Opposition camp fielded their candidates for the run to Raisina Bhawan, it appears to be a Dalit vs Dalit battle where both candidates will take on for the prestigious post which may also have a bearing on the 2019 general elections. As many as 17 Opposition parties have decided to field former Lok Sabha speaker and Dalit leader from Bihar, Meira Kumar, against NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind. Meira Kumar was born in Bihar on March 31, 1945. Her father Babu Jagjivan Ram was an iconic Dalit Congres leader and an ex-deputy PM during the time of first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Talking about Kumar’s nomination today, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said, “We have decided to field the name of Meira Kumar for the Presidential election… We do hope that other parties also join us,” Congress president Sonia Gandhi said. Other Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Kumar was a unanimous choice.
In the last UPA rule, Kumar served as the Lok Sabha speaker. She is also a former IFS officer and a widely respected leader. Meira Kumar was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1985. She won her second, third, fourth and fifth Lok Sabha terms in 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2009 respectively.
Kumar has traveled widely across the world. Her hobbies include visiting old monuments, Indian textiles and craft. Kumar h0lds BA LLB, MA (English degrees and and Advanced Diploma in Spanish. She has studied at Indraprastha College and Miranda House of University of Delhi and in Madrid.
Kumar had joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and served at Indian embassies in Spain, United Kingdom and Mauritius. She had quit the IFS to join electoral politics in 1985. For the first time, she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh in 1985.
Kumar was married to Manjul Kumar on November 29, 1968. She has a son and two daughters.
Kumar had won both 2004 and 2009 General election from her father’s former constituency of Sasaram in Bihar. In 2002, Kumar had resigned from the Congress, citing differences. However, she returned to the party fold in 2004.
During the first UPA government starting 2004, Kumar served as Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment in Manmohan Singh Cabinet. In 2009, she was appointed as the Union Minister for Water resources. Later in the same year, Kumar achieved the distinction of becoming the first woman speaker of the country. Under Modi-wave of 2014, Kumar lost to BJP’s Chhedi paswan from Sasaram by a margin of over 50,000 votes.