New Delhi : An Opposition meeting in New Delhi on Thursday decided to field former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as the joint Opposition candidate for the coming presidential election.
Ms. Kumar is the daughter of Dalit icon and freedom fighter Jagjivan Ram. Before turning to active politics, Ms. Kumar served the Indian Foreign Service.
Ms. Kumar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on June 21 along with other senior party leaders, fuelling speculation that the party was willing to support her candidature.
The Thursday meeting of Opposition parties was attended by leaders of 17 parties.
Prominent among those who attended the meeting held in the Parliament House Library were Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ahmed Patel, besides NCP's Sharad Pawar and RJD's Lalu Prasad.
Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, DMK's Kanimozhi and National Conference's Omar Abdullah also attended the meeting.
Though Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee, BSP's Mayawati and SP's Akhilesh Yadav, who were present at the last Opposition meeting held on May 26, were missing, their representatives were there. While Derek O' Brien represented the Trinamool, the SP sent Ramgopal Yadav and the BSP Satish Mishra.
Other parties represented at the meeting included the JD(S), the RSP, the JMM, the Kerala Congress, the IUML and the AIUDF of Assam.
Hours before the meeting, the Congress stepped up its efforts to keep the Opposition bloc united as its brass held discussions with leaders of a host of other parties.
Cracks appeared in the Opposition camp after the JD(U)'s surprise decision on June 21 to back NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, as its chief Nitish Kumar was the one who had initiated the process for a joint Opposition strategy on the issue.
Sources said a contest for the country's top constitutional post was on the cards as the majority in the Opposition saw it as an "ideological battle" that has to fought. "No matter what happens, we will contest the election," a senior Left leader said.