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Profile: Pratibha Patil

From her days as a lawyer in Jalgaon to becoming the first woman President of India, Pratibha Patil has seen the rough and tumble of politics.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 21, 2007 05:41 PM IST

From her days as a lawyer in Jalgaon to becoming the first woman President of India, Pratibha Patil has seen the rough and tumble of politics including an unusually bitter campaign on her way to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The 72-year-old Congress loyalist held several posts in Maharashtra besides being Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and Governor of Rajasthan but her role in the cooperative movement in her state was at the centre of a controversy in the run-up to the presidential election.

Set to break the male bastion in Rashtrapati Bhavan, Patil, fielded by the UPA-Left combine, brings with her a wealth of experience both as a politician and an administrator.

Patil, who defeated NDA-backed independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat by a comfortable margin, will be the country's 13th President.

Nearly eight years after her tenure as a Lok Sabha member ended in 1996, Patil, a staunch supporter of the Nehru-Gandhi family, had gone into a virtual political wilderness before she was brought in as Rajasthan's Governor in November 2004.

Born on December 19, 1934 in Jalgaon district, Patil practised there as a lawyer before joining politics.

She was a member of the Maharashtra assembly from 1962 to 1985, and served as a minister holding portfolios like urban development and housing, education, tourism, parliamentary affairs, public health and social welfare and cultural affairs. She worked her way up from the rank of deputy minister to the cabinet as also in the Congress hierarchy.

Patil also has the experience of being a leader of the opposition when Sharad Pawar, as head of the Purogami Lok Dal, became Maharashtra chief minister for the first time in July 1979.

Patil's stint in Parliament began in 1985 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha and became its Deputy Chairperson a little over a year later, a post in which she remained from November 18, 1986 to November 5 1988. During this period, she also headed the parliamentary committee on privileges.

She was the Maharashtra Congress chief from 1988 to 1990 before being elected to the Lok Sabha from Amravati in 1991.

Patil, who never lost an election, had gone into virtual political hibernation at the end of her tenure in the Lok Sabha and her only appearance in the political scene of Maharashtra was taking part in the party's campaign in polls. It was in November 2004 that the Congress leadership recalled her to become the Governor of Rajasthan.

Married to Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, an educationist whose family had migrated from the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan to Jalgaon a few generations ago, Patil has one daughter Jyoti Rathore and a son Rajendra Singh. DR Shekhawat had been a mayor of Amravati.

A social worker by profession, Patil is associated with several cultural, educational and social welfare organisations.

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