Saturday, July 21, 2007

India Elects First Woman President

Photo by Agence France-Presse
India got its first female president on Saturday as lawmakers elected Pratibha Patil in what was billed as a historic step forward for women.

The 72-year-old lawyer cruised to a landslide win over incumbent 84-year-old Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the largely ceremonial post of head of state of the world's largest democracy.

"I am grateful to the voters... I am grateful to the people of India, the men and women of India," Patil said outside her New Delhi residence, as supporters danced in the streets and burst firecrackers in celebration.

"This is the victory of the principles which our Indian people uphold," she told reporters.

Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress party, smiled warmly on hearing that the candidate she plucked from relative political obscurity had been elected by an electoral college of federal and state lawmakers.

"In the 60th year of our independence, for the first time, we have a woman president and I want to thank our alliance partners and all those who voted for her," said Gandhi.

She had said Patil's election would be a historic moment and boost the cause of women in a country where many face sexual discrimination. Source


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