Last year, an astrologer told Pratibha Patil that she wouldn’t complete her term as the Rajasthan Governor, and instead she would move out to occupy a more important post in near future.
Patil’s husband Devisingh Shekhawat said the prediction was all set to come true. “Then we didn’t take the prediction seriously. But now, I can’t restrain myself from making it public,” he said.
She can take tough decisions
Diminutive and polite PratibhaPatil has a will of steel, as the VasundharaRaje government in Rajasthan found to its peril in April last year. After having the Freedom of Religion Bill passed in a hurried voice vote on the last day of the assembly session on April 6 last year, the Raje government had sent the proposed legislation for Governor Patil's sanction. Within days, the Governor not only returned the bill, but also "reserved" it for the consideration of President APJ Abdul Kalam. In the first week of May, Rajasthan's BJP government re-sent the same bill with minor amendments. There has been no forward movement witnessed since, as Governor Patil's sanction is still awaited.
“I can’t imagine this. The news that Pratibhatai’s name has been proposed as the UPA’s presidential candidate is a pleasant surprise to us,” Shekhawat told HT from a dusty north Maharashtra town, Jalgaon. Shekhawat said people in Jalgaon and Amravati (her husband’s hometown) were celebrating on the streets.
Patil (73) inherited politics from her illustrious father Narayanrao, a Maratha-Rajput. She represented the constituency Edlabad in Jalgaon district five times and served as minister for over 20 years. She was deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, and also represented her in-laws’ place Amaravati in the Lok Sabha. She was appointed as Rajasthan’s first woman governor in 2004, some eight years after she retired from active politics.
Congress veterans recall Patil as fiercely independent politician. Knowing her resolve late Indira Gandhi made her Opposition leader in the state assembly to counter the then chief minister Sharad Pawar.
Congress leader from North Maharashtra Rohidas Patil said, “She lived up to high command’s expectations as an opposition leader. Otherwise very softspoken, she would be extremely aggressive against the government,” he recalled.
Patil practiced law before marrying Devisingh. “Our life has been a roller-coaster ride because both of us were active in politics at different level. But I must say she is a fantastic wife. She discusses everything with me, but takes decisions on her own. I trust her immensely,” said Devisingh Shekhawat.