Meira Kumars remarks come against the backdrop of violent incidents and protests.
Amid a spike in attacks by cow vigilantes, opposition's presidential candidate Meira Kumar said the atmosphere in the country has become "very disturbing" and asked the government to take firm steps to stop such "killings".
"The atmosphere in the country today is very disturbing. When I open newspapers in the morning, I am scared of having to read the news of killings of 16-year-olds on roads... in their homes," she told reporters.
Ms Kumar's remarks come against the backdrop of violent incidents and protests. "Firm steps should be taken by the government and it should immediately stop the killings as it has got an unprecedented mandate in parliament," she responded to a query on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that killing of people in the name of cow protection was not acceptable.
She said the country was at a critical juncture today as "narrow-mindedness and religious intolerance" has become prevalent. About her contest against NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the top constitutional post, the Congress veteran said, "I have written to the MPs and MLAs of all parties to understand the seriousness of the situation and use the opportunity they have in creating history. This is the time when they need to listen to their conscience for the sake of the country and its future."
When asked about her stand on reservation, Ms Kumar said she was completely against it. She said the reservation system has been prevalent since the last 5,000 years. "Specific work is allotted to people of particular caste. Why can a person belonging to only a particular caste perform puja in a temple, another does leather trade and so on. First this reservation should stop. Then we will come to another reservation (issue of minority quota)," she said.
When asked whether there was a need to hold the elections if the BJP was sure that its candidate would win, the former Lok Sabha Speaker said, "This is not just a fight, but a very strong articulation for our ideology."
Asked if this has become a "Dalit vs Dalit" contest, she said in the past such elections where candidates belonged to upper castes, the talks veered around their experience and intellect. "Don't Ram Nath Kovind and I have any other qualities? We should rather talk about development. I'm unhappy that our thoughts have not developed," she said.