- Meira Kumar, former Speaker, is opposition's candidate for President
- Ram Nath Kovind is candidate of BJP and allies in July 17 contest
- BJP and allies, with regional parties, have more than 60% of vote
"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.
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."
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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