Opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar filed her nomination papers today at 11 am in the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders. .
Prior to her filing nomination, the former Lok Sabha Speaker yesterday held a press conference, reiterating that there should not be one upmanship on caste for the post of President.
She said that the focus on the caste of the candidates in the run-up to the contest reflected the state of the society.
“I am happy that caste is being talked about – it shows the reality of our society, what society thinks. Before this, whenever there has been an election for the highest office of the land, when candidates of so-called higher castes were contesting – people never spoke about their castes,” she said.
“There was always a discussion on their qualifications and calibre. But when two Dalits are contesting, why are we talking about their caste?” she added.
Brushing aside charges of having been a biased Speaker and non-payment of government dues by a foundation in the name of her father Babu Jagjivan Ram, she said such “baseless allegations” were being levelled to malign her.
Responding to a poser on Janata Dal (United) supporting NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, Kumar said, “Such things happen in politics. I will decide what to do at the right time.”
On June 23, Ram Nath Kovind filed his nomination papers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a battery of NDA chief ministers and party leaders.
Though the BJP refused to call the event a show of strength, the event turned into exactly that. Top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chief Ministers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan join Kovind as he filed his nomination paper.
All chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and its allies except Manohar Parrikar of Goa and Mehbooba Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir were present.
Besides NDA constituents, which comprise over 48.6 per cent of votes in the electoral college that will elect the next president, regional parties such as the AIADMK, BJD, TRS and JD(U) have announced their support to the Dalit leader, making his win an almost foregone conclusion.
Kovind is guaranteed to get more than 61 per cent of votes, and the finally tally depends on how some still-undecided regional parties vote, BJP source said.
The election is scheduled for July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20.
The term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends on July 24.
Once elected, Kovind will be the second Dalit to occupy the highest constitutional office. The first was K R Narayanan, who was in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1997-2002.