Sep 27, 2023
Sep 27, 2023
Democracies are like cricket; they can surely throw up surprises for the unlikeliest or reasons. India on Friday was agog with stories of a woman set to make history as a possible first lady President of this great democracy. While India has had a woman Prime Minister, the redoubtable Indira Gandhi who was eulogized by one of her sycophants as the only 'man' in the cabinet, no woman has been even considered as a President hopeful. So when Pratibha Patil, a not so non descript lady governor of the state of Rajasthan was nominated as the consensus candidate of the ruling UPA, there was unsmitten joy written on the face of almost every woman in India. So who is Mrs. Pratibha Patil, many people asked, though she has been in public life for many years it was away from the lime light of national politics.
Born in a middle class family in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India's most prosperous state, she however does not belong to the powerful Maratha lobby in Western Maharashtra which has controlled the state apparatus for the past many decades. Her detractors claim that she has been a survivor in politics, loyal to the Gandhi family nominated to be president by Madam Sonia. No doubt loyalty to India's first family is a powerful qualification in the Congress party, where rumor mills indicated that many who were suspect including the present External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee were ruled out of the job of the first citizen.
But Madam Patil is not just a loyalist. She has powerful credentials of her own as an educationist. Along with her husband who incidentally is a staunch Rajput of the warrior clan of Shekhawats from Rajasthan, Mrs. Patil is running a number of institutions for women and handicapped. Vidya Bharati Shikshan Prasarak Mandal of the Patils runs a chain of schools and colleges in native Jalgaon and Mumbai. An engineering college is being run for rural youth in Jalgaon and hostels for working women in New Delhi and Mumbai. School for poor children and assistance in setting up an Industrial Training School for the Blind are her other stellar contributions in the field of education.
She will if elected be succeeding a powerful legacy left behind by President Abdul Kalam, who has inspired the youth through his regular interactions, flew in a jet fighter and dived down in a submarine. But Patil may without undertaking any spectacular feats upstage the peripatetic bachelor, she is also politically savvy and for the Indian National Congress, a loyalist as the President is a small insurance if things do not go its way in national elections which are due in a couple of years.
There is another woman president hopeful in one of the best known democracies in the World, the United States of America. This lady is of course well known, is articulate and many say was behind the success of her husband. She of course is Hillary Clinton, who stands a chance of being nominated by the Democrats for the post of the most powerful person on the Earth, Madam President of the United States.
More by : Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle