It's Kovind vs Meira
The opposition on Thursday chose former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, a Dalit, as its candidate for president against NDA's Ram Nath Kovind.
Kumar, a former diplomat and daughter of the late Dalit icon Jagjivan Ram, was the unanimous choice of the 17 opposition parties that attended the meeting.
With Kovind also being a Dalit, this makes it a Dalit vs Dalit presidential contest.
"We have decided to field the name of Meira Kumar for the presidential election... We do hope that other parties also join us," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said.
Her party colleague, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, said Kumar was a unanimous choice.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar proposed three names — Kumar, former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar, both Dalits from Maharashtra.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury put forward the names of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar.
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 representatives present at the meeting included JD-S, RSP, JMM, Kerala Congress, IUML and the AIUDF of Assam.
JD(U), which had decided to back BJP's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, skipped Thursday's meeting. But RLD chief Ajit Singh attended, making up the numbers.