Hurriedly-parked OB vans, metal detectors and
, throngs of onlookers, cars screeching in with flashing beacon lights: there was no way one could miss that a major political event was unfolding in the national Capital.
11, South Avenue — just a step away from the Rashtrapati Bhawan — was where all roads led to on Saturday. It is the temporary residence of Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of Independent India.
Whatever else she might forget, this moment will remain forever etched in her memory: the arrival of Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary with a certificate authenticating her victory in the presidential election. Carrying bouquets, they all came to greet her: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former and serving union ministers to Congress Working Committee members, MPs, MLAs and party workers.
The result of the election triggered a contrast between two villages of Sikar district in Rajasthan. Jubilation in Pratibha Patil's in-laws village, Choti Losal, was matched by disappointment among the 6,000 inhabitants of Khachriyavas, the native village of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who they considered 'invincible'.
In Patil's hometown of Jalgaon, Maharashtra, celebrations were muted. "We haven't seen her for ages in this town," complained a Congress worker. But no such complaints by Pratibhatai's friends and family, who broke into unrestrained expressions of joy after the announcement.