Opposition candidate Meira Kumar on Tuesday said there should not be "one upmanship of caste" for the post of President and stressed that the July 17 election will be fought on the basis of ideology and not caste.Kumar lamented that for the first time caste was being made an issue in the election to the country's highest office."Why should caste be an issue in the Presidential election?" Kumar wondered, a day before she files her nomination papers. "This election is being fought on the basis of ideology, and not caste. Would you want the election for highest post in the country to be fought on the basis of caste? Would the citizens of the country want this to happen?
The prestige of the post would end the day we think in this manner. We will fight on the basis of ideology," said Kumar addressing mediapersons.The former Lok Sabha Speaker reiterated that she espouses the values of social justice, freedom of speech, inclusiveness and abolition of caste system and would fight to uphold these values."Many times in history, two high caste leaders have competed for the post of the President but there havn't been any discussions on their caste. This time, when two Dalits are competing against each other, there is a lot of noise about it everywhere. I feel that caste should be buried in the deepest part of the earth and completely forgotten. Our society should progress," she said."This reflects the true picture and truth of the society. I can make out clearly how the society thinks in 2017. The achievements and qualities of the candidates were not discussed, but their caste was. "When two Dalits contest there are discussions that two Dalits are contesting and the rest is not taken into consideration," she added."Whatever is happening is very painful.
This reflects the mindset of the society," she added.Asked about caste bias within opposition parties with Mayawati saying she would support only if a popular Dalit candidate was chosen, Kumar said: "This is the election to the highest position in the land. Although its process of election is political, the post itself is apolitical.""For this post, there should be no one-upmanship of caste. I don't think the caste identification should play a role," she added.On NDA leaders including M. Venkaiah Naidu saying there was no need to bring ideology in the contest, Kumar said: "You mean to say that ideology will not not have a role in the election of the highest post? How can there be an election free from ideology which is for the post of the President.""Democratic values, social justice, transparency, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, destruction of caste system, end of poverty... these are part of the ideology which is close to my heart.
For this very reason, on the plank of this ideology I will compete," Meira Kumar added. Expressing her gratitude to the 17 political parties for selecting her as their presidential candidate, Kumar said she has requested all the members of the Electoral College to support her candidature in a letter she wrote two days back. Asked about External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's tweet targeting her, Kumar said: "On the last day as Lok Sabha Speaker, leaders from every political party delivered their speeches. "Everybody, without any bias, both from opposition and the treasury benches, appreciated my work. Nobody made allegations that my style of functioning was biased in favour of the treasury benches."