Meira Kumar
Meira KumarReuters

The Opposition announced on Thursday that Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker and daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram, would be their candidate for the upcoming presidential polls this year. 

The announcement was made by Congress president Sonia Gandhi after 17 Opposition parties held a meeting chaired by her at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday.

"All 17 political parties have unanimously proposed the name of Meira Kumar ji for forthcoming Presidential election," Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, told reporters in Delhi after the meeting.

If elected president, she will be the second Lok Sabha speaker in the history of Independent India to hold the post.  She served from June 2009 to June 2014.

The first person to have that privilege was Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy. Also from the Congress, Reddy happened to be the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was Lok Sabha speaker twice — first, from 1967 to 1969 and then for a little more than 100 days in 1977. He went on to become the sixth President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982. 

Who is Meira Kumar?

Kumar, a former speaker of the Lok Sabha and five-time MP, was born in Bihar's Arrah district to former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram and freedom fighter Indrani Devi. She also has a brother Suresh Ram, who was involved in a sex scandal with a 21-year-old student of Delhi University in 1978.

Kumar, a lawyer and former diplomat, is the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Prior to entering politics, Kumar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1970 and spent several years living in different countries in a diplomatic capacity.

Kumar, a Dalit, also served as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004-2009 during the UPA government led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh. She was also the Union Minister for Water Resources for a brief period in 2009. She resigned after being elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Kumar attended the Welham Girls School in Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School in Jaipur. She also attended Banasthali Vidyapith for a brief period. She completed her MA and LLB from Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University. She also received an honorary doctorate from Banasthali Vidyapith in 2010.