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Opposition's presidential nominee Meira Kumar today met Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav separately during her day-long visit to the state capital here. She met Mayawati at the latter's residence, while the meeting with Yadav took place at the SP headquarters here. Later, at a press conference, Kumar termed the July 17 presidential election as a "fight to uphold the secular fabric of the country" and urged the MPs and MLAs to listen to their conscience and keep the future of the country in mind while exercising their franchise. Kumar, who was here to garner the support of opposition parties SP, BSP and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) among others, alleged that the secular ideology of the country was being continuously attacked over the last few years. "Hence, the opposition has made the presidential poll a fight for ideology to uphold the secular fabric of the country, so that the poor, oppressed and those from the weaker sections feel that their voice is reaching the highest constitutional post," she said. Stating that there were eight main religions in India, the former Lok Sabha speaker said the citizens of the country should have respect towards the different faiths. "We and our previous generations have inherited the thinking that all of us should stay in harmony and neither indulge in hatred, nor spread animosity. We should respect all the religions.
India is a multi-cultural country and it should be kept intact by tying them in a single thread," she added. Kumar also said the caste system had "insulted" a large chunk of the country's population to the extent that it had "crippled" them. "I want to thank the opposition parties for reposing faith in me. The unity of the opposition lies in its ideology," said the 72-year-old former diplomat. Kumar said her maternal uncle belonged to Kanpur and she always felt happy whenever she came to Uttar Pradesh. Incidentally, her opponent in the presidential poll, NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind, also hails from Kanpur.