The ink has barely dried on her nomination papers, but the UPA’s presidential candidate Pratibha Patil has shown that she has a fine ability to put both her feet in her mouth at the same time while seeming to appear unruffled.
First, she caused some palpitations in the hearts of historians and not a few secularists, by claiming that the purdah system had come into force because to keep rampaging Mughal eyes at bay.
Now, the Indian Express has produced assembly records to show that during the Emergency, Patil, as Maharashtra’s health minister, had endorsed a proposal to make family planning compulsory for all citizens:
“We are also thinking of forcible sterilisation for people with hereditary diseases.”
Admittedly, there is a bit of an agenda in all these quotes being dusted up, and sections of the media are playing along. And, maybe, the stories about her kin being accused of murder and the sugar factory of which she was a director defaulting on a bank loan, is part of the “dirty tricks”.
We could be speaking too early, of course, but could India’s woman president end up like George W. Bush, not quite known for her mot juste?