India’s First Woman President

Dec/29/2022 / by Swarnendu Biswas
Pratibha Patil
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is commonly referred to as Pratibha Patil, is a prominent Indian politician who served as the 12th President of India, from 25th July 2007 to 25th July 2012.

Till recently she was the only female to become the President of India, though on 21st July 2022 Draupadi Murmu achieved the distinction of becoming the second female President of India. Prior to becoming the President of India, Pratibha Patil served as the Governor of Rajasthan. Her tenure as the Governor of Rajasthan was from 8th November 2004 to 23rd June 2007.

The Early Years

 Pratibha Patil was born on 19th December 1934, in Nadgaon village of Jalgaon district, which is located in the Maharashtra state of India. The age of Pratibha Patil is 87 years. While studying about Pratibha Patil we can come to know that she did her schooling from R. R. Vidyalaya in Jalgaon. She earned a master’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Mooljee Jetha College, Jalgaon, which was then under Poona University, and then went on to get a Bachelor of Law degree from Government Law College, Bombay.

Not many know that the first female President of India was very active in sports during her student life and excelled in table tennis; she won many shields at various inter-collegiate tournaments.

From Lawyer to Legislator

Pratibha Patil began her career as a lawyer. She can be described both as a politician and lawyer. Prathiba Patil began to practice law at the Jalgaon District Court. However, side by side she got herself engaged in several social activities, especially for the improvement of the condition of poor Indian women.

She entered electoral politics in the early 1960s and in 1962, she was elected to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from the Jalgaon constituency. She was only 27 then. But here it deserves a mention that her initiation into politics began when she was a student when she became a member of Indian National Congress.

The biography of Pratibha Patil must explore that her success streak in the tough battleground of Indian politics continued unabated as she went on to win from Muktainagar constituency(one of the 288  assembly constituencies of the Maharashtra state) on four consecutive state legislative  elections between 1967 and 1985. Formerly Muktainagar constituency was known as Edlabad constituency. During her long tenure in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Pratibha Patil had held many important positions.

Holding Important Offices

Some of the important offices she held during her long stint as a MLA included Deputy Minister of Public Health, Prohibition, Tourism, Housing & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Maharashtra (during 1967-72); Cabinet Minister, Social Welfare, Government of Maharashtra (during 1972-79); Cabinet Minister, Public Health & Social Welfare, Government of Maharashtra (1974-75); Cabinet Minister, Education, Government of Maharashtra (1977-78) among others. She was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly during 1979-80.

The former President of India also had the distinction of serving as the President of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (1988-90), as the Director of the National Federation of Urban Co-operative Banks and Credit Societies, and a member of the Governing Council of the National Co-operative Union of India during her distinguished public life. She also served as the Chairperson, Maharashtra State Water Pollution Control Board from 1982 to 1985.

In the National Politics

Pratibha Patil entered national politics when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1985. She served as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha from 1985-1990. She served as the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha during 1986-88 too.

In the 10th general elections in 1991, she was elected as a Member of Parliament from the Amravati constituency to the Lok Sabha. Her tenure as a Lok Sabha MP ended on 16th May 1996 and following that she took break from politics for close to a decade.

Leader of the People

Pratibha Patil did work extensively for women and children and the underprivileged sections of society’s welfare during her public life. She was instrumental in setting up hostels for working women in Mumbai and Delhi, an engineering college in Jalgaon, an industrial training school for the visually handicapped in Jalgaon, schools for poor children of nomadic tribes and for children of backward classes in the Amravati district in Maharashtra and in doing several other welfare initiatives. She also did set up Vidya Bharati Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, an educational institute that has a number of schools and colleges in Amravati, Jalgaon, Pune, and Mumbai within its ambit.

Ms. President

In November 2004, she was appointed as the 17th Governor of the Rajasthan state of India; the first woman to hold such an august office. However, she couldn’t serve her full term as the Governor of Rajasthan as she was announced as the then ruling United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) nominee for the post of President in the 2007 Indian presidential election.

She was not the first choice of Congress’s (the leading party of UPA) for the President, but when the left-wing parties of the UPA alliance did not agree to the nomination of Shivraj Patil (he was the Minister of Home Affairs of India during 2004 to 2008 and was the 10th Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 1991-1996) and Karan Singh(eminent politician and philosopher, he was the first Governor of Jammu & Kashmir) for the post of President, Pratibha Patil was handpicked by Sonia Gandhi, the President of Indian National Congress, as the UPA’s nominee for the post of President.

Despite facing various criticisms regarding her Presidential candidature, she defeated her challenger Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the then incumbent Vice President by getting 2/3rd of the votes, and become the 12th President of India.

Allegations Against

Her tenure as a President was largely lacklustre. As President, she commuted death sentences of 35 petitioners to life imprisonment, which is a record for any President of India.  However, her decision was defended by the President’s Office, which said that the President had granted clemency to the petitioners following due consideration and examining the advice of the Home Ministry.

There was also allegation against Pratibha Patil for going on more foreign trips than any other President of India and using of money from public funds to build for herself a retirement mansion on a 260,000 square feet plot of military land in Pune.

FAQs

For how many years Pratibha Patil was the President of India?

She was the President of India for five years.

Who is the husband of Pratibha Patil?

She and Dr. Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat married in 1965.

When did Pratibha Patil join politics?

She entered politics when she was a student when she became a member of Indian National Congress.

Seema

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Get notified about exclusive stories every week!

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Seema will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.