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Prez poll contest of democratic values, not Dalit vs Dalit: Meira Kumar

New Delhi: Opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar on Tuesday said she would contest the polls on the plank of democratic values, inclusiveness, social justice and destruction of caste structure.

Kumar, the daughter of iconic Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram, rued that the polls were being seen as a “Dalit versus Dalit” contest. The caste system, she told reporters, should be “buried deep down” in the earth.

Addressing the media, Kumar said, “I don’t think the caste identification should play a room.”

Asked about alleged attacks on Dalits in the recent past, she said, “It is quite shameful.”

Speaking on the emergence of two factions, each supporting the two presidential candidates, Kumar said that 17 political parties have extended their support to her.

“I have written to the collegium of MPs and MLAs and asked for their support. I have requested them to listen to the inner voice of conscience,” she said.

The former Lok Sabha speaker, chosen as the Opposition’s candidate to contest against BJP’s nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election next month, said she had not decided whether or not to appeal to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar to support her nomination.

Kumar also said she would launch her poll campaign from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.

“All MPs appreciated my style of functioning when I was Lok Sabha speaker… none alleged I was biased,” she said.

Hinting at bias, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had posted a video of her Lok Sabha speech in 2013 in which then speaker Kumar is seemingly not extending protection against disruptions in the house.

The presidential elections are set to take place on July 17.