Congress-led Opposition's presidential nominee Meira Kumar today said that she was pained that the election for the head of the nation was reduced to a Dalit versus Dalit contest. Daughter of the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's first cabinet Babu Jagjivan Ram, Meira Kumar said that one must criticise this mindset.
"To an extent it makes me happy (that a Dalit was being considered for the top constitutional post) but I am also worried that even in 2017, we are being judged on the basis of caste. In the past too, several leaders from upper castes have fought presidential polls but never has the issue of their caste been discussed," the former career diplomat said.
"If such elections were fought on basis of racism anywhere in the world, we would have criticized it. We must criticize if this is being said in our country," she added.
The five-time Lok Sabha MP, who hails from Bihar’s Sasaram, and former Lok Sabha Speaker visited Sabarmati Ashram to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. She tried her hand at spinning the 'charkha' -- a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came here and did the same. "Everyone knows the importance of Sabarmati and Sabarmati's Sant (Mahatma Gandhi). Just by going there one gets shakti (power)," she told media persons at the Ashram here.
About the July 17 presidential poll, Meira Kumar said, "The unity of the opposition is based on ideology that we have learnt from Mahatma Gandhi. So after filing the nomination and scrutiny, the first thing I did was to visit Sabarmati Ashram and pay my respect."
She also paid her respect to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister, stating that he was her neighbour in Delhi. She said that she had received his blessings in childhood.
Meira Kumar later visited the Gujarat Congress party headquarters, Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan and told a battery of waiting media persons that her fight against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance candidate Ram Nath Kovind was based on ideology where ‘all have right to free speech, social equity, poverty alleviation and destruction of casteism’.
The UPA’s nominee said that she has written a letter to each member of the electorate and urged them to listen to their ‘conscience’. "This is a historical opportunity and they must not let this opportunity slip. I hope they would listen to my request."