Former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar was on Thursday picked as the Opposition’s candidate to take on National Democratic Alliance’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the Presidential election due next month.
Meira Kumar is the daughter of the former Deputy Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram and freedom fighter Indrani Devi.
She attended Pelham Girls’ School and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ Public School and went on to complete her MA and LLB from Indraprastha College and Miranda House, respectively.
In 1970, she joined the Indian Foreign Services. In 1985, she entered politics and became a member of the Indian National Congress. Kumar contested from Bijnor district in Uttar Pradesh, defeating popular Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati.
She held the post of Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009 during the UPA regime.
Her Share of Controversy
Kumar’s political career also has its share of controversies. In a contentious move, the UPA government allowed Kumar to retain a Lutyens Zone bungalow that was allotted to her father during his term till 2038.
The bungalow, located in Krishna Menon Marg, was converted into a museum on Jagjivan Ram by Kumar, requesting neither the Directorate of Estates nor the Lok Sabha secretariat for a rent waiver.
She was given rights to the bungalow while she already had one for herself in Akbar Road, by virtue of being the Speaker.
She allegedly encroached upon the bungalow, overruling a decision made by the NDA cabinet in 2000 that banned further conversion of bungalows into memorials to deal with the shortage of accommodation for ministers.
Further, a rent bill of Rs 2 crore issued against Meira Kumar’s name for her father’s bungalow was waived by the UPA government.