Meira Kumar
The Speaker, Lok Sabha, Smt. Meira Kumar in 2010.jpg
15th Speaker of the Lok Sabha
In office
04 Jun 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 Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
In office
Preceded byKalka Dass
Succeeded byAnita Arya
ConstituencyKarol Bagh
In office
Preceded byChowdhary Girdhari Lal
Succeeded byMayawati
ConstituencyBijnor (by-poll)
Personal details
Born (1945-03-31) 31 March 1945 (age 77)
Darbhanga, Bihar, British India (present day Darbhanga, Bihar, India)
Political partyIndian National Congress
Other political
United Progressive Alliance
Manjul Kumar
(m. 1968)
RelationsSumitra Devi (mother-in-law)
Children3 (1 son and 2 daughters)
Alma materFaculty of Law, University of Delhi

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 block when she secured the United Progressive Alliance's nomination in 2017.

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. Meira Kumar's vote share is the third highest for a losing candidate, that of Neelam Sanjiva Reddy in the 1969 Presidential elections and K. Subba Rao in 1967 Presidential elections.

Early life

Meira Kumar was born on 31 March 1945, in Darbhanga district, Bihar of the British India (present day Bihar, India) to Jagjivan Ram, an Oppressed 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 from Indraprastha College and the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi respectively. 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.[citation needed] 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]


Foreign Service

Kumar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and was posted as language trainee at the Embassy of India Spain. During this period, she obtained a diploma in Spanish.[5] Later, she was posted at the High Commission of India,United Kingdom .[5] After working as a diplomat for 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 career

Kumar meeting Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi in 2013.
Kumar meeting Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi in 2013.

Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985, when she received an Indian National Congress' nomination for the Lok Sabha from the Bijnor constituency bye-poll 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]

Meera Kumar lost elections for 9th Lok Sabha (1989) and 10th Lok Sabha from Sasaram, but went on to win elections for the 11th (in 1996) and the 12th Lok Sabhas from Karol Bagh in Delhi. She lost her seat to the candidate from the Bhartiya Janata Party in 1999 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 and in 2019, Kumar contested from Sasaram and lost both times to her nemesis Chhedi Paswan who has defeated her in Sasaram four times.[9]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 election

Main article: 2017 Indian presidential election

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.[14][15]

Party (Alliance) Candidate Electoral Votes Vote Percentage States carried
Ram Nath Kovind official portrait.jpg

Ram Nath Kovind
702,044 65.65% 21
Meira Kumar.jpg

Meira Kumar
367,314 34.35% 10

Positions held

Meira Kumar has been elected 5 times as Lok Sabha MP.[16]

# From To Position Party
1. 1985 1989 MP (1st term) in 8th Lok Sabha from Bijnor (by-poll) INC
2. 1996 1998 MP (2nd term) in 11th Lok Sabha from Karol Bagh INC
3. 1998 1999 MP (3rd term) in 12th Lok Sabha from Karol Bagh INC
4. 2004 2009 MP (4th term) in 14th Lok Sabha from Sasaram INC
5. 2009 2014 MP (5th term) in 15th Lok Sabha from Sasaram INC

Explanatory notes

  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 also


  1. ^ "Profile: Meira Kumar, first female Dalit Speaker". 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. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. 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". 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.
  16. ^ "Member Profile". Lok Sabha. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
Lok Sabha Preceded byChowdhary Girdhari Lal Member of Parliamentfor Bijnor 1985–1989 Succeeded byMayawati Preceded byKalka Dass Member of Parliamentfor Karol Bagh 1996–1999 Succeeded byAnita Arya Preceded byMuni Lall Member of Parliamentfor Sasaram 2004–2014 Succeeded byChhedi Paswan Political offices Preceded bySatyanarayan Jatiya Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment 22 May 2004 – 22 May 2009 Succeeded bySelja Kumari Preceded bySaifuddin Soz Union Minister of Water Resources 22 May 2009 – 25 May 2009 Succeeded byPawan Kumar Bansal Preceded bySomnath Chatterjee Speaker of the Lok Sabha 4 June 2009 – 4 June 2014 Succeeded bySumitra Mahajan