Grandma's Tales

June 14, 2007

Woman President for India? It’s a possibility!

Filed under: Games People Play,Government — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:46 pm

So Shivraj Patil is out (phew!) and Karan Singh is out too(ok). Pratibha Patil has emerged (or has been sprung) as the UPA consensus candidate. Theoretically and numerically, she could win the race and become the first woman to occupy the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. As someone cracked in these pages, she could be our first Rashtrapatni 🙂 She seems to have a lot of plus points for the post.
[1] She is a political person. She was member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from ’62 to ’85. She has been elected to the Lok Sabha. She has been elected to the Rajya Sabha and was the Deputy Chairperson for two years. In fact, she never lost an election through her political career.
[2] She has been a staunch Congress supporter. She was Maharashtra Congress chief from ’88 to ’90. She went into political hibernation after her Lok Sabha tenure ended around ’95.
[3] She was recalled in 2004 to become the Governor of Rajasthan. Her refusal to sign the anti-conversion bill pleased her political bosses in Delhi immensely. Probably a huge point in her favour.
A woman parliamentarian, a governor, a Congresswoman. Wow!
This is how I look at the whole scenario. Hindsight, no doubt, but it looks so obvious now. I do think her candidature was decided when she was asked to occupy the governor’s bungalow in Jaipur. Else, why would the Congress party dig out a 70-year-old woman for that office?
Two years roll by. It’s time to announce the names of Presidential hopefuls. The GOP (Grand Old Party) of India lets out the worst possible names anyone can think of. Pranab Mukherjee’s name is floated around but before it gains credence the man is put in charge of the charade to follow.
Why this multi-act play? To get the Left to agree to the candidacy. The Congress knew (everyone knew) that the Left must be given a chance to reject the Congress candidate to get them to agree to a unanimous decision. They would do it anyway, to establish their importance, to get those brownie points with the media and pump air into their egos.
So, they are allowed to reject the dummy candidates, and once they do that, out they’d bring Pratibha Patil. It’ would be difficult to reject her. She has the qualifications they had put down as conditions. A political person with a good record. Has been toeing the Congress line without being too aggressive toward the opposition. But most importantly, she is far superior to the ones proposed first.
If you are a reader of Wodehouse, you’ll know the “psychology” behind it. The girl Medeleine Bassett, I think, is in love with a guy her family does not approve of. So she is advised to do the following. She goes to her people and announces that she’s going to marry Bertie Wooster. The family is aghast. That no-good, dumbhead waster? they cry. No dear, that would break our heart! Anyone but him! Ha, ha! says Madeleine, and gives her (second) choice. The family agrees at once. Anyone but that guy BW! Soon all is well!
Cut to the present. Left rejects the first names, and with MK as witness, Congress proposes Pratibha Patil. A relieved Left agrees. The others are relieved too. More so because the Left does not have a candidate of its own.
Pratibha was chosen for one more reason. It’s well-known the NDA would support BS Shekhawat, a politician from the single-colour side of the political spectrum. Pratibha is married to Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, a Rajasthani. So it’s Shekhawat vs Shekhawat if it comes to a contest.
But who can say “no” to a woman Prez? Not me. Pratibha wins my vote for an important reason. She excelled in sports as a school girl. A Prez interested in sports! And she is a lawyer by profession. That’s great too. She was educated at a time when a lot of women did not go to college. Obviously she grew up in a household with progressive views. Yes, if you think of the bunch in contention, Pratibha is definitely a better choice.
See, I’m falling into the psycho net too!


  1. I thought that she was taken into consideration just because she was a woman…

    Comment by suvina — June 15, 2007 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  2. Hi suvina, thanks for stopping by. Right now it is the only way out for consensus. The parliament has stalled the 33% reservation for women bill for years, now. The Left (at least some in the Left) is snorting at it. We can’t give you that, anyway we don’t have the majority, so we give you a woman Prez!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — June 15, 2007 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  3. Hey Ma’am!
    I have to admit that I never took into consideration all the points which you’ve listed in her favour. All I had in my mind is that she is 72 and is not getting any younger! I was hoping that somebody young would step up but then it’s just a nominal post so it would be foolhardy to lose a prospective “young” spunky visionary to a kind of non-action phase. I have nothing against the presidential post because our present Prez has just proved himself by being a real inspiration. It’s just that the Indian Government needs new young people. Mr.Rahul Gandhi has loads of potential but then he is too busy stepping on people’s toes and being un-diplomatic. Truthful?! Maybe..Anyway,it’s a woman and woman power rocks in any form,any where! 🙂 Wish her all the luck!
    p.s- “She will be 77 at the end of her tenure,if she wins!” My friends observe,gaspingly. Recently,a paradox crept up that people who are old(What defines it,anyway?) should spend time praying and in satsangs. A victorian view,indeed! So Ms.Patil another point in your favour. Show’em! (Pun intended)

    Comment by Karishma — June 18, 2007 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Karishma, as usual, your comments are a pleasure to read – both in content and language. I would use the phrase “someone with experience and a good track record”, someone who has proved himself/herself committed to the welfare of the nation, someone who stands for hope, as Kalam was. Your friends’ gasp may have some justification in that we don’t want the Rashtrapati spending his time abroad for all the wrong reasons. Your question “what defines the term old” is topic for a full scale discussion. I am working on it.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — June 18, 2007 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  5. What do you say about “Medha Patkar” as next President of India? She will definitely stand better than some unknown Patil-bai. I never heard PP has done any good. She is/was never in lime light (good or bad).

    Comment by NP — June 18, 2007 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  6. Hi NP, thanks for stopping by.Patil-bai (that’s lovely!) qualifies precisely because she’s been low profile. The Congress wants someone pliant at Rashtrapati Bhavan, not someone who’ll ask embarrassing questions. Do you really see Medha Patkar there?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — June 18, 2007 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  7. Thank you Ma’am! I’m trying to understand the dynamics of the presidential election but Ms.Patil,sadly,I have to say,I cannot picture in the office. I think someone like Ms.Kiran Bedi would be a fantastic choice but then you need the “consensus” by a bunch of parties and leaders(all yes-people! “Yes to anything as long as we don’t have to explain or justify ourselves.”) who all support Woman-Power-Ms.Patil in particular! This reminds me of the song ‘Winds of Change’ by the Scorpions. Great song and haunting music! I’m completely fazed and struck speechless at the dramatic and drastic changes in Indian politics. I mean how did Ms.Patil’s name crop up even?! Ms.Sonia Gandhi has sure disappointed me!

    Comment by Karishma — June 22, 2007 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

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