Exclusive: Presidential poll is a fight of ideologies not caste: Meira Kumar
The 'Dalit' and 'numbers' questions follow her wherever she goes but Meira Kumar is unfazed. With a clear plan in place and a vision for the country, the UPA's Presidential election nominee spoke to OneIndia amid her busy schedule when she visited Bengaluru on Saturday.
Here are the excerpts of the exclusive interview.
Q- You have time and again said that the Presidential election is not about caste. Is it about ideology then?
A- Yes, it is. It is a fight of ideologies and that is the way it should be. As a country, we should be mature enough to handle it.
Q-You are now in the race to become the first citizen of India. What is your vision for the country?
A- All my life I have worked for the upliftment, dignity and the rights of the most suppressed classes cutting across all castes and religion. I have strived to serve them and this will always also be my vision.
Earlier on Saturday, Meira Kumar said that it was a shame that the Presidential election was being given a 'Dalit' colour. "I suppose everyone is wondering why two Dalits are nominated for the Presidential election that does not have a reservation for Dalits. Should Dalits be limited only to reserved seats? However, I am glad that these questions are being raised. These questions lay bare the thought process of people and society," she said. Meira Kumar, clearly tired of being asked the Dalit narrative question, added that such questions only exposed the society's way of thinking in reality.
"I am now learning that even in 2017, people speak of caste identity. There have been Presidential elections earlier and candidates from upper castes have been filed against each other, but we never spoke of caste then. We never questioned their identity and caste, instead we spoke about their qualifications, dedication, work and experience and achievements," she added.
"Now, when Kovind ji and I have been nominated to contest, all that people are talking about is caste. There is no other discussion. Where do we stand today with this midset? Everyone wants good infrastructure, good employment and good development but what about good thoughts?" she asked.
Meira Kumar called it shameful that something as sacred as the Presidential election was being given a Dalit V/s Dalit colour and there was an immediate need to rise above this mindset.
When asked about the odds against her in terms of numbers, Meira Kumar said that she was doing what was in her capacity to convince the members of the collegium to support her. "I have written to the members of the collegium, each one, all MPs and MLAs seeking their support. I am also meeting them in person. I am glad to announce that former Prime Minister H D Devegowda and his party has pledged support to me," she added.
Brushing aside talks of her being a scapegoat without a chance to win, Meira Kumar chose to call herself a fighter. "I am not a scapegoat but I am a fighter. I will fight and I am sure many many will join me in this fight of ideologies," she concluded.