Meira Kumar Reacts To Sushma Swaraj's Video Against Her: 'We Are Friends'

Meira Kumar is the candidate chosen by a group of 17 parties, led by the Congress, for the Presidential election on July 17.

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Meira Kumar Reacts To Sushma Swaraj's Video Against Her: 'We Are Friends'

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Meira Kumar is a 5-time member of Parliament and first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Meira Kumar, former Speaker, is opposition's candidate for President
  2. Ram Nath Kovind is candidate of BJP and allies in July 17 contest
  3. BJP and allies, with regional parties, have more than 60% of vote
Meira Kumar, who is running for President of India, says she's not upset with Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, who recently tweeted a video to suggest Ms Kumar, 72, is not president material.

"During elections, some people get insecure and angry. That's when they throw mud on others," Ms Kumar told NDTV, stating of Ms Swaraj, "Yes, we are friends."

On Sunday, Ms Swaraj posted a video from 2013 that showed her repeatedly being interrupted during her speech in the Lok Sabha by Ms Kumar, India's first woman Speaker. Ms Swaraj was attacking the then government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over corruption. The Speaker tried to cut her off.

Ms Swaraj's tweet along with the video: "This is how Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar treated the Leader of Opposition". She said she was interrupted "60 times in 6 minutes."

Ms Kumar is the candidate chosen by a group of 17 parties, led by the Congress, for the Presidential election on July 17. She's up against Ram Nath Kovind of the BJP, who was Governor of Bihar till his party scooped him up as its surprise nominee. Both candidates are Dalits, leading to allegations of their parties being guilty of tokenism.

"I was in London on a diplomatic assignment and this person was showing me his house to rent. I won't tell you his name but he asked me 'Are you a Brahmin?' I said no, of course. But I didn't get that house," said Ms Kumar, whose critics say that as the daughter of freedom fighter and former deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram, she has not shared the struggles that Dalits experience everyday. 

In response to that criticism, she shared, "I would go to someone's house for tea and I would get to know that they washed their cups separately. So, when the government and my critics call me a dynast, they are putting Dalits down."

It is unlikely that the election will be a close one. The BJP with the support of its allies and regional parties has coalesced more than 60 per cent of the vote. An incongruous member of the pro-BJP group is Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, who was among the earliest and most ardent proponents of a joint opposition candidate to take on the BJP.

Ms Kumar refused to comment on what has been called his defection to the ruling party's league, stating, "I don't think it is right to bring up individuals."

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With her credentials under scrutiny, a step that she has been denounced for is converting a large bungalow in the heart of Delhi into a memorial for her father, seen by some as an attempt to acquire controlling interest in prime real estate.

"This is a well-settled issue. That memorial was given by a government, even if it is the UPA. This government had three years to point out any problems but they waited till I was nominated," she claimed.

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