The 88-year-old Indian National Army doctor shot into limelight when Bose entrusted her with the task of commanding the Rani Jhansi Brigade in 1942, and since then she hasn't looked back.
"It was the best and biggest surprise in my life when Mr A B Bardhan [Communist Party of India] and Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet [Communist Party of India-Marxist] called me up separately to break the news [of my nomination]," Sahgal told rediff.com.
Perched on an antique sofa in her modestly yet exquisitely done house in Kanpur's posh Civil Lines, Sahgal said, "well, I have accepted the offer and I am going to contest."
When asked where she stood in the face of the high-profile nuclear scientist, she said: "This is going to be a battle of ideology."
Her 53-year-old daughter, Subhashini Ali, said: "You see, we have all respect for Dr Abdul Kalam as a scientist of eminence, but perhaps for the President of the country it was also important to know and understand the provisions and nuances of the Constitution."
A former CPI-M member of the Lok Sabha from Kanpur, Subhashini is the ex-wife of renowned filmmaker Muzaffar Ali.
Readying her mother, who was leaving for New Delhi, Subhashini said, "It was nice and considerate for the Left leaders to recognise my mother's contribution, not only to the freedom movement, but also to the communist movement in the country."
Sahgal was candid enough to point out that "it is not a question of victory or defeat; what is more significant for me [is] that India's Left parties alone had thought about fielding a women for this top position for the first time."
Asked what would be her priorities in case she got to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, she said, "My one-point objective would be to maintain the unity and integrity of this great nation."
She also claimed that her elevation to the President's chair would not affect her day-to-day activities, which include running a free clinic for the poor and infirm.
Many of her patients were seen queuing up at her house to congratulate her.
Interestingly, she took up medicine shortly after breaking off from her short-lived first marriage with B K N Rao in Tamil Nadu. Having graduated from the Madras Medical College in 1938, she migrated to Singapore in 1940, where she came in contact with the INA.
The INA changed her life and in 1946 she married Colonel P K Sahgal, a prominent commander of the INA.
In 1946, the British army captured her in Burma, where she was leading an operation with her Rani Jhansi Brigade. She faced trial, but was finally let off with other INA soldiers.
Ever since Col Sahgal joined an industrial house in Kanpur, the city became her home. The Congress never gave any of the INA people a good deal, so she joined the communist party of which she continues to remain a committed comrade.
Coverage of the election for the 11th President of India
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