Meira Kumar
Meira KumarReuters

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is the Opposition's candidate for the upcoming presidential polls. Opposition parties met in Delhi on Thursday to decide on a candidate for the upcoming Presidential polls after the NDA government picked former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as their candidate.

The meeting was chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the Parliament House in New Delhi. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP President Sharad Pawar, RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav were also present at the meeting.

Reports had earlier suggested that Kumar had emerged as the frontrunner. Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar, were also considered as strong candidates.

"Our first choice for Presidential candidate is Gopal Krishna Gandhi otherwise Prakash Ambedkar. We'll discuss in opposition party meeting, Yechury had told ANI on Thursday when asked about the Opposition's choice of candidate for the presidential polls.

The Opposition received a major blow when JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sided with the BJP and agreed to support Kovind's candidature for the polls. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu also offered full support to NDA's nominee. The AIADMK, Shiv Sena and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) also supported the BJP.

However, the Opposition has emphasised that it wants an election as the contest will symbolise "a battle of ideologies," NDTV reported.

BJP president Amit Shah had announced on Monday that Kovind, a Dalit, had been nominated as their presidential candidate and that the Opposition had been informed of the NDA's decision. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally spoke with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to seek support for the former Bihar governor, Shah had said.