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Prez poll: Pratibha Patil is UPA-Left nominee
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | June 14, 2007 17:33 IST
Last Updated: June 14, 2007 19:40 IST
Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the United Progressive Allaince, on Thursday announced that Pratibha Patil, governor of Rajasthan, would be the alliance candidate for the post of President of India. All the members of the alliance, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] thumped the desk to applaud the announcement.
However, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's [Images] correction that she was Pratibha Patil Shekhawat evoked laughter among those present at the UPA meeting.
"It is a historic moment in the 60th year of India's independence that a woman is being nominated for the post of President of India," Sonia said. The name of Pratibha Patil came up when Left parties insisted why not nominate a woman for the post.
"Dr Singh thought this was a good idea. In fact he had been preparing a list of top 10 women in the country who would be acceptable as the UPA nominee and Pratibha Patil was one of them," Dr Sanjaya Baru, Dr Singh's media adviser, told newsmen. He refused to divulge the other nine names.
Howvever, no one was prepared to say when the name of Pratibha Patil entered the race as she was nowhere in the picture till Thursday afternoon.
Around 3 pm, Intelligence Bureau sleuths started inquiring about her chances from media friends and that is when the cat was let out of the bag.
Seventy-three year old Pratibha Patil Shekhawat has the unique distinction of being the daughter of Maharashtra and daughter-in-law of Rajasthan -- the same state from where her rival Bhairon Singh Shekhawat hails.
Congress hopes to rope in women MPs and MLAs who would feel proud to have a woman as the President of India and not many males including Bhairon Singh Shekhawat may like to offend women.
"There is a strong possibility that he may withdraw," said a senior Congress leader who had first tipped off rediff.com about the possibility of a woman being nominated for the coveted post.
Married to Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, the couple has one son and one daughter. A post-graduate and an advocate by profession, she began her her life as a social worker from her hometown Jalgaon in Maharashtra.
She has been a member of the Maharashra Legislative Assembly from 1962-1985 and has held various positions as Cabinet minister in different governments.
She remained deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha from November 18, 1986, to November 5, 1988.