Meira Kumar on Tuesday thanked the 17 Opposition parties that jointly appointed her the presidential candidate, and said they had united under a common ideology. Addressing the press at Delhi’s Constitution Club, Kumar said, “The unity of coming together of these political parties is based on their firm ideological position.”

Kumar said she will fight the Presidential election on the ideologies of democratic values, equality and social justice, and would begin her campaign from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat.
On Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s support for National Democratic Alliance Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, Kumar said she has written to regional leaders, asking them to “listen to the inner voice of their conscience.”

However the 72-year-old former Lok Sabha Speaker rejected the idea that the election was a Dalit versus Dalit battle, saying this reveals the society’s mindset, where caste takes precedence over the candidate’s merits.

Kumar said society should “hang its head in shame” if atrocities against Dalits take place, and said she was fighting for the destruction of the caste system. On Union Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeting a 2013 video of her on Sunday, Kumar said, “When I was the Lok Sabha speaker everyone, be it from the government or those in Opposition, have appreciated my work. Nobody accused me of being partisan.”

17 Opposition parties led by the Congress had on June 22 named Meira Kumar their presidential candidate, three days after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA fielded Ram Nath Kovind. The presidential election will take place on July 17.