Prez Polls: Meira Challenges Ram

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar was chosen as the Opposition's presidential candidate against NDA's Ram Nath Kovind. Kumar is a four-time Congress Lok Sabha MP and daughter of Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram. Worried about the fissures in the ranks, the Opposition zeroed in on Kumar's name but Nitish Kumar's JDU ruled out rethink on its support for Kovind.

At a meeting of 17 non-NDA parties in Parliament House Library , RJD chief Lalu Prasad is learnt to have proposed only one name -that of Bihar-born Meira Kumar. NCP, which was maintaining a curious silence so far, finally rallied behind Meira, even though NCP chief Sharad Pawar's first choice was former Maharashtra CM Sushil Kumar Shinde.

The Left parties were initially backing Mahatma Gandhi 's grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi or BR Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar, but finally agreed to go with Meira. BSP has also decided to back Meira.

Meira's choice was unanimous. Pawar was the first speaker at the meeting and he proposed three names -Shinde, educationist B Mungekar and Meira Kumar. Prasad strongly supported Meira's name. Following Prasad, all parties, including the Left, decided to back Meira.

It is also gathered that no further discussions were held on the strategy for the presidential elections, with numbers stacked up in favour of the NDA.

CPI's D Raja said that the contest was for the idea of India. “For us it is simply RSS versus the rest. It is about saving the ideals and idea of India and hence we support Meira Kumar's candidature,“ he said.

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