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Woman named for Indian presidency

INDIA: The governor of the Indian state of Rajasthan, Pratibha Patil, has been named as a presidential candidate by India’s Congress-led ruling coalition.

She could become the first woman to occupy the mostly ceremonial position.

Mrs Patil emerged as a surprise, last-minute candidate after the left parties persisted with their opposition to the Congress party’s first choice.

Mrs Patil, 72, is a former deputy speaker of the upper house of India’s parliament, the Rajya Sabha.

She has been governor of Rajasthan for nearly three years.

Mrs said that she would work for removing disparities in society if elected to the highest Constitution post.

Talking to journalists at Raj Bhawan, Ms. Patil said she was “extremely happy” about her nomination.

“I am grateful to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the coalition partners for giving me this opportunity,” she said.

“I feel proud. Selection of a woman candidate for the President’s post will send a good message not only to the countrymen but also to the nations in the neighbourhood.”

Ms. Patil said she respected Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, her likely opponent in the Presidential poll.

“He is a respected figure. I hold him in high esteem,” she said.

However, when mediapersons asked whether it would be a contest between the son of Rajasthan and the daughter-in-law of Rajasthan, she said: “All are equal.”

“My term in Rajasthan as Governor has been very satisfying,” she said.

To mediapersons here, she had this to say: “Don’t forget me.”

Mrs Patil created history when she took oath on November 8, 2004 as the first woman Governor. In fact, she is the only woman Governor in the country now.

A senior Congress leader from Maharashtra, she was elected to the Legislative Assembly five times between 1962 and 1985, and once each to the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

She was also president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee. From 1986 to 1988, Ms. Patil served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

A Rajput from Maharashtra, Ms. Patil is married to Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat from Rajasthan. She is a Master in Arts and has a degree in law.

She played a lead role in setting up educational institutes for the poor in Maharashtra. She also set up an industrial training school for the visually impaired, besides organising vocational classes for poor and needy women.

A firm believer in women’s causes and a tireless champion of spreading education among girls, Ms. Patil believes that education among women will only enhance their respect and generate awareness for social causes.

As one who always stands for a better deal for women she says this is essential for the progress of the nation Ms. Patil has played an active role in checking evils such as female foeticide and dowry.

In speeches at universities, colleges and schools in Rajasthan over the past three years, she has spoken about these causes in an attempt to generate awareness among students so that they play constructive and positive roles in shaping the future of the country.

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