Open main menu

Meira Kumar (born 31 March 1945) is an Indian politician and former diplomat. A member of the Indian National Congress, she was the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009, the Minister of Water Resources for a brief period in 2009, and the 15th Speaker of Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014. Kumar became just the second woman to be nominated for president of India by a major political bloc when she secured the United Progressive Alliance's nomination in 2017.

Meira Kumar
Meira Kumar.jpg
15th Speaker of the Lok Sabha
In office
4 June 2009 – 18 May 2014
DeputyKariya Munda
Preceded bySomnath Chatterjee
Succeeded bySumitra Mahajan
Minister of Water Resources
In office
22 May 2009 – 25 May 2009
Prime MinisterManmohan Singh
Preceded bySaifuddin Soz
Succeeded byPawan Kumar Bansal
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
In office
22 May 2004 – 22 May 2009
Prime MinisterManmohan Singh
Preceded bySatyanarayan Jatiya
Succeeded bySelja Kumari
Member of the Lok Sabha
for Sasaram
In office
2004–2014
Preceded byMuni Lall
Succeeded byChhedi Paswan
Member of the Lok Sabha
for Karol Bagh
In office
1996–1999
Preceded byKalka Dass
Succeeded byAnita Arya
Member of the Lok Sabha
for Bijnor
In office
1985–1989
Preceded byChowdhary Girdhari Lal
Succeeded byMayawati
Personal details
Born (1945-03-31) 31 March 1945 (age 74)
Patna, Bihar, British India (present day Patna, Bihar, India)
Political partyIndian National Congress
Other political
affiliations
United Progressive Alliance
Spouse(s)Manjul Kumar
ChildrenAnshul Kumar
Devangana Kumar
Swati Kumar
Alma materUniversity of Delhi

Prior to being a member of the 15th Lok Sabha, Kumar had been elected earlier to the 8th, 11th, 12th and 14th Lok Sabha. Kumar was the joint presidential candidate by the leading opposition parties for 2017 presidential election and lost the election to the NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind, but made a record for obtaining the most votes ever by a losing candidate (3,67,314 Electoral votes).

Early lifeEdit

Meira Kumar was born on 31 March 1945 in Arrah district, Bihar of the British India (present day Bihar, India) to Jagjivan Ram, a dalit leader and former Deputy Prime Minister and Indrani Devi, a prominent leader of the Indian freedom struggle.[1] Growing up, Kumar shared a close relationship with her mother, who she spent most of her time with. She discussed the impact that her mother had on her in an interview with Manoj Tibrewal of the Doordarshan News, calling her the biggest influence from her childhood.[2]

Kumar attended the Welham Girls School, Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School in Jaipur. She studied at Banasthali Vidyapith for a short duration. She completed her Master's degree and Bachelors of Law at Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University. She also received an honorary doctorate from Banasthali Vidyapith in 2010.[3][4]

Kumar worked as a social worker during her youth, actively participating in movements supporting social reforms, human rights, and democratic ideas. She was appointed as the Chairperson of National Drought Relief Committee constituted by the Congress during 1967 famine in region of Bihar. As the head of the commission, Kumar launched a Family Adoption Scheme under which drought-affected families were provided support from volunteering households.[5]

CareerEdit

Foreign ServiceEdit

Kumar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and was the ambassador to Embassy of India in Madrid, Spain, a position that she held from 1976 to 1977. During her time in Madrid, Kumar graduated with an advanced diploma in Spanish.[5] Following that, Kumar was appointed as the High Commission of India to the United Kingdom in 1977. She was stationed in the India House, London for two years until the end of her term in 1979.[5] After working as an ambassador for a little over a decade, Kumar quit the Indian Foreign Services in 1985 and decided to enter politics after being encouraged by her father and the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi.[6]

Political careerEdit

Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985, when she received a Indian National Congress' nomination for the Lok Sabha from the Bijnor constituency in Uttar Pradesh. She defeated, as a newcomer, two veteran dalit leaders including Ram Vilas Paswan of the Janata Dal and Mayawati of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party.[7][8] Following her election to the Lok Sabha, Kumar was appointed as member of the Ministry of External Affairs' Consultative Committee in 1986.[5]

Kumar went on to win elections for the 8th Lok Sabha from Bijnor and the 11th and the 12th Lok Sabhas from Karol Bagh in Delhi. She lost her seat to the candidate from the Bhartiya Janata Party in 1996 election, but was able re-elected with a significant majority from her father's former constituency of Sasaram in Bihar in 2004 and 2009. In the 2014 general election, Kumar contested and lost to Chhedi Paswan from Sasaram by a margin of 63,191 votes.[9]

 
Kumar meeting Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi in 2013.

Following the Congress party's win in the 2004 Indian general elections, Kumar served in the United Progressive Alliance's Government as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004 to 2009, under the premiership of Manmohan Singh.

In 2009, the United Progressive Alliance returned to power after an improved performance in the general election and Kumar was, on May 22, 2009, briefly inducted as member of the centre's cabinet as the Minister for Water Resources.

However, she was later nominated for the position of the Speaker of Lok Sabha and she submitted her resignation three days after assuming ministerial office. Kumar was then elected as the first ever woman speaker of Lok Sabha and remained in office from 2009 to 2014.[10][11]

2017 presidential electionEdit

Kumar secured the United Progressive Alliance's nomination for the 2017 Indian presidential election, becoming just the third woman to be nominated for president of India by a major political bloc,[a] after Pratibha Patil.[12] Although she received support from most of the major opposition parties for her election to the office, she went on to lose to the National Democratic Alliance nominee Ram Nath Kovind.[13]

Kovind received a total of 2,930 votes (which included both Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assemblies) amounting to electoral college votes of 702,044.[13] He defeated Kumar, who received a total of 1,844 votes amounting to 367,314 votes in terms of electoral college. Kumar's total of 367,314 votes remain the highest number polled by any losing candidate in the history of presidential elections in India.[14][15]

Explanatory notesEdit

  1. ^ While Lakshmi Sahgal was also nominated by the Left Front during the 11th presidential election, she secured only 10 percent of the total votes polled.

See AlsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Profile: Meira Kumar, first female Dalit Speaker". oneindia.in. 3 June 2009. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Manoj Tibrewal Aakash interviewed Meira Kumar for DD News's Ek Mulaqat (Full Interview)". Doordarshan News. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2019 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "Banasthali created a force of empowered women - Times of India". Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Biography] [Lok Sabha". Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "Detailed profile: Smt. Meira Kumar". Government of India. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  6. ^ Mariet D'Souza, Shanthie. "Meira Kumar". Britannica. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Law, foreign service, politics: Know Oppn's presidential candidate Meira Kumar". Hindustan Times. 22 June 2017. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Bijnor(Uttar Pradesh) Lok Sabha Election Results 2014 with Sitting MP and Party Name". Elections.in. Archived from the original on 14 March 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Election Commission of India, General Elections, 2014 (16th Lok Sabha)" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 November 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  10. ^ "India: Woman Wins Post of Speaker". The New York Times. 4 June 2009. Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Meira Kumar brings Jagjivan to fore". The Times of India. 4 June 2009. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. ^ Bhardwaj, Supriya (23 June 2017). "Presidential election: Meira Kumar to file nomination on June 27, thanks Opposition parties for nominating her". India Today. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Kovind first President from Sangh, cross-voting boosts margin". The Times of India. 21 July 2017. Archived from the original on 23 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  14. ^ Sunil Prabhu (21 July 2017). "In Defeat, Opposition's Meira Kumar Breaks 50-Year-Old Record". NDTV. Archived from the original on 21 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Presidential Polls: Meira Kumar will challenge Ram Nath Kovind, BSP and SP go with Opposition choice". The Indian Express. 23 June 2017. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.

External linksEdit

Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Chowdhary Girdhari Lal
Member of Parliament
for Bijnor

1985 – 1989
Succeeded by
Mayawati
Preceded by
Kalka Dass
Member of Parliament
for Karol Bagh

1996 – 1999
Succeeded by
Anita Arya
Preceded by
Muni Lall
Member of Parliament
for Sasaram

2004 – 2014
Succeeded by
Chhedi Paswan
Political offices
Preceded by
Satyanarayan Jatiya
Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
22 May 2004 – 22 May 2009
Succeeded by
Selja Kumari
Preceded by
Saifuddin Soz
Union Minister of Water Resources
22 May 2009 – 25 May 2009
Succeeded by
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Preceded by
Somnath Chatterjee
Speaker of the Lok Sabha
4 June 2009 - 4 June 2014
Succeeded by
Sumitra Mahajan