President must uphold values of pluralism, says Meira Kumar
The opposition presidential nominee, Meira Kumar, today said the President of India must uphold the values of "inclusiveness, social justice and pluralism" as the supreme representative of the nation. She said the post was not symbolic and that capability and experience must supersede all other considerations.
Kumar, the joint opposition candidate announced by 17 non-NDA parties yesterday, is likely to file her nomination papers on June 27 or 28, which is the last date for submitting signatures of the endorsers and other documents.
In an appeal to the electorate comprising Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and legislators in state assemblies, she said the post was responsible for "safeguarding and defending" constitutional principles for future generations. "The values I hold dear - of inclusiveness, social justice and pluralism - are the values the President must uphold as the supreme representative of our nation."
If the values were eroded, the Constitution would be undermined, the former Lok Sabha Speaker said.
"India can then not hope to achieve the progressive modernity envisioned by its founding fathers and reflected in the collective will of its people," she said in a statement.
Kumar said the post embodied the diversity of India's socio-political culture and the vision of its "composite ideology".
"It transcends the considerations of caste, religion or region," she said.
The post, the former minister stressed, was not symbolic. "It articulates, in the fullest sense, the basis of our electoral philosophy - that capability and experience must always supersede all other considerations."
In her appeal, she asked members of the collegium to base their decision on "these cherished principles and secure them for our future generations".
Kumar, a dalit who was a Union Minister in the UPA government, said she was honoured to be the joint opposition candidate. She also expressed her gratitude to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of 17 political parties for their decision to nominate her.
Kumar also individually spoke to leaders of various opposition parties to thank them for the nomination. The presidential election will be held on July 17 and it will be a dalit vs dalit contest with Kumar pitted against NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
The Congress said the post of the President should be held by someone who would protect the Constitution, "belong to all" and be away from politics. "Meira Kumar is the ideal candidate," spokesperson RPN Singh told the media.
"We have selected such a candidate who has contributed to the nation and dedicated her life to parliamentary democracy. She has emerged as an example. We are confident that such a person would be elected," he said.
Singh said Kumar was a dalit and "bihar ki beti" (daughter of Bihar), but refused to comment on JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar's decision to support Kovind. He, however, termed Nitish an "intelligent man".