Shimla, Jul 10 (PTI) The opposition’s presidential nominee, Meira Kumar, today met the Congress MPs and MLAs from Himachal Pradesh and urged them to use their “conscience” while voting in the July 17 election to the country’s top constitutional post.

“Earlier also, the members had exercised their conscience during the presidential contest between Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and V V Giri,” she told the Congress lawmakers.

The former Lok Sabha speaker, who was accompanied by senior Congress leaders including Salman Khurshid, Ambika Soni and Anand Sharma, claimed that she had the support of 17 parties in the presidential election.

She alleged that the ruling BJP had become “intolerant” towards the different ideologies, religions, eating habits etc. in the country.

“India has been a perfect example of unity in diversity as the people of the country follow various religions, ideologies, cultural ethos and values. But, this multi- religious system is being marginalised and the people are looking at us to raise their voice,” the five-time Lok Sabha MP told reporters later.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh assured Kumar that the Himachal Congress Legislature Party (CLP) would stand behind her as she was the “most deserving candidate” for the post of president.

The BJP-led NDA’s presidential nominee, former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind, is scheduled to visit Shimla on July 13 to seek the support of the MLAs and MPs of the ruling bloc.

The presidential election is scheduled to take place on July 17 and the counting of votes will be taken up on July 20.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.