C Times, 23rd July 2017, Agartala
Yesterday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced the name of the senior party leader at a meeting of 17 parties, including the Left, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, DMK, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
With the announcement of Meira Kumar’s against National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind, the stage is set for a Dalit versus Dalit contest for the country’s top constitutional post.
On 19 June 2017, BJP party president Amit Shah declared the NDA candidate for President of India, Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit Leader and member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was Governor of Bihar from 2015 to 2017.
Kovind was born on 1st October 1945 in Kanpur Dehat District, Uttar Pradesh. His father was a farmer. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in commerce and an LLB from Kanpur University. Kovind married Savita Kovind on 30th May 1974. They have a married son, Prashant Kumar and a daughter Swati.
After graduating in law, kovind went to Delhi to prepare for the civil services examination. He passed this exam on his third attempt, but he did not join as he was selected for an allied service instead d of IAS and thus started practising the law. He was Central Govt. Advocate in the Delhi High Court from 1977 to 1979 and served as a Central Govt. standing counsel in SC from 1980 to 1993. He also served as the personal assistant of Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai in 1977-1978.
He joined the BJP in 1991. He was President of the BJP Dalit Morcha between 1998 and 2002 and president of the LL India Koli Samaj. He contested from Ghatampur and Bhognipur assembles constituencies on the BJP ticket but lost both elections.
He was elected and became a Rajya Sabha MP from the state of Uttar Pradesh in April 1994. As a member of parliament, he served on the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, Home Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Social Justice and Empowerment, Law and Justice. He also served as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee.
On 8th August 2015, the President of India appointed Kovind as Governor of Bihar. On 16th August 2015, the Acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Iqbal Ahmad Ansari, administered the oath to Kovind as the 36th Governor of Bihar.
After a nomination for the post of President of India, he resigned from his post as Governor of Bihar, and President of India Pranab Mukherjee accepted his resignation on 20th June 2017.
A group of opposition parties President candidate former Speaker Meira Kumar, also a Dalit leader.
Meira Kumar was born in Arrah District, Bihar to the former Deputy Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader.
She attended the Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ Public School in Jaipur. She completed her M.A and L.L.B at Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University. In 1970, she joined the Indian Foreign Service and spent her life in many countries.
Meira Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985 and was elected from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, defeating political heavyweights like Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati, two powerful Dalit leaders. She served in the Congress-led Govt. as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2001 to 2009.
In 2009, she was briefly inducted as a member of the cabinet as Union Minister of Water Resources. She was elected the Speaker of Lok Sabha, thereby becoming the first woman Speaker of the country. She served as the Speaker from 2009 to 2014. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Kumar contested and lost to Chhedi Paswan from Sasaram by a margin of 63,327 votes.
The election is scheduled for 17 July and the counting of votes will take place on 20 July.
The term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends on 24th July.