Meira Kumar was named as the nominee of the major opposition parties for the presidential election to be held on July 17, 2017. Her nomination as the presidential candidate was announced on June 22, 2017. She is a senior Congress and Dalit leader with a strong and diverse political experience.
72-year-old Meira Kumar has been a five-time member of the parliament and has been elected from three different constituencies—Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, Karol Bagh in Delhi, and Sasaram in Bihar. She was the first woman to be elected as the Lok Sabha speaker and held this responsibility till 2014.
According to the Indian Express, it was back in 2004 when she was absorbed into the Congress-led UPA government as a Cabinet Minister. She then became the Union Minister for Water Resources during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second term. Earlier, she had also earlier held senior organisational responsibilities in the Congress, including her responsibility as General Secretary.
Meira is a daughter of freedom fighter and former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram. She was born in Patna on March 31, 1945, and holds an LL.B. degree and a Masters in English Literature. According to IANS, she then joined the Indian Foreign Service in the year 1973 and worked in the embassies of Spain, Mauritius, and the U.K. However, she resigned when the Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi requested that she should contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.
During her term as the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Meira, who is herself from the Dalit community, worked to change the mindset against private sector reservation. She strongly believes in deepening social justice rather than providing patronage to the marginalised. She feels deeply against the dominance of ‘caste’ in our society. According to IANS, she said in one of her speeches,
The country's sustainable growth is not possible without ending centuries-old exclusion of marginalised groups such as Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Meira held the position of General Secretary in Congress from 1991-92 and 1996-99. She has also been a member of the highest decision-making body of the party, Congress Working Committee (CWC). When she was elected as the Lok Sabha speaker in 2009, she repeatedly emphasised on the productive and judicial use of time by the members. She headed several parliamentary delegations, including to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Speakers Conference.
Meira met the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on several occasions since her father was a member of the Interim Government in 1946. She was particularly fond of Nehru’s ability to seamlessly connect with children. She has an interest in writing poems in Hindi, cultural heritage preservation, and crafts of India.