Opposition Names Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar As Presidential CandidateMeira Kumar (Sunil Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Seventeen opposition parties met today (22 June) at the Parliament library and declared former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as their candidate for the Presidential Elections to be held next month. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad addressed a press conference in Delhi.

Opposition parties have unanimously proposed the name of Meira Kumar for the upcoming Rashtrapathi Election.
Ghulam Nabi Azad

Azad went on to describe Kumar as a “crusader for social justice” and that the Opposition could not have picked anyone better. Kumar, a five-time Member of Parliament, served as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009, Minister for Water Resources in 2009 and Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that four names were considered – Meira Kumar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Bhalchandra Mungekar and Prakash Ambedkar. Kumar met Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her house yesterday (21 June) for dinner, fueling speculations on her being the Opposition candidate.

However, the Opposition may not be able to take on the National Democratic Alliance with members such as the Janata Dal (United) and the Janata Dal (Secular) opting to support Ram Nath Kovind. Further, several non-allied members such as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Biju Janata Dal and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have also opted to support Kovind.

The Opposition meeting, although attended by all parties, saw the conspicuous absence of Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Samjawadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. The Left Front had reportedly wanted to field former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi but were unable to do so.

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