New Delhi: Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker and daughter of veteran Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, will be joint opposition candidate for the country's next president, it was decided at a meeting chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi Thursday afternoon.
Senior Congress Leader Gulam Nabi Azad while announcing the name of Meria Kumar as the opposition candidate said it was unanimously decided by all opposition leaders that Meira Kumar will be their candidate for the top constitutional post of the country.
"All 17 political parties have unanimously proposed the name of Meira Kumar ji for forthcoming PresidentialElection", he said.
"Daughter of freedom fighter Jagjivan Ram, she is an experienced leader and has served in various capacities", Azad said.
Other names from the opposition camp that were trending since two days were Prakash Ambedkar and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
With the announcement of Meira Kumar as opposition candidate it is now certain that India's next president will not be chosen by consensus.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had already declared Ram Nath Kovind, former Bihar Governor, as NDA's candidate for the presidential election.
The Opposition was quick to communicate its disapproval of Kovind's candidature, saying they were not taken on board. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that there were better and more known Dalit leaders than Ram Nath Kovind.
The meeting held at Parliament House in New Delhi was attended by leaders from 17 opposition parties.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other JD(U) leaders were absent from the meeting as they have already announced their support for the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
While talking to reporters after the meeting of opposition parties, Lalu Prasad Yadav appealed Nitish Kumar to rethink over his decision to support the NDA candidate.
"Nitishji called me and said that it is his personal decision. I appeal him to rethink", he said.
The BJP and allies have more than 60 per cent of the vote with the support of several regional parties including both factions of the AIADMK, but the opposition parties that want an election say the contest will symbolise "a battle of ideologies".
The Election Commission of India has fixed July 17 as the date for polling.