India Debates Fitness of Woman Set to Be President

I remember her vaguely from being immersed in Indian politics a lot more in the past than I am now. She’s just another politician, member of the Congress Party, the corruption, nepotism, etc., well, par for the course. Just because she’s a woman does not make her immune. There’s a long history of corrupt politicians becoming president of India (See Singh, Zail!). Indira Gandhi started the rather convenient process of hiring pliant presidents, it was in general a good power consolidation move. It just so happened that the outgoing president, Dr. Abdul Kalam was a nuclear scientist and technocrat, not a career politician.

It looks like the Congress party’s just returning to its politician president ways!

India Debates Fitness of Woman Set to Be President – New York Times

India’s first female president is likely to be voted into office on Thursday, but this milestone event has been overshadowed in recent weeks by an unusually savage debate over whether she is fit to become head of state.

When the leader of the governing Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, announced in June that Pratibha Patil, 72, was her party’s official choice for the post, she added that to have a woman president would be a matter of “great pride” and a “historic moment in the 60th year of our republic.”

But Gandhi’s attempt to promote this as a triumph for gender equality has won Ms. Patil little support.

Instead, the pre-election campaigning has been dominated by a series of vitriolic attacks on Ms. Patil’s credentials.

The opposition has alleged, among other things, that she shielded her brother in a murder investigation, protected her husband in a suicide scandal, and was herself involved in numerous financial irregularities.

And then there are Ms. Patil’s own peculiar statements — most notably, her revelation that she had heard the voice of a dead guru predicting she would rise to power.

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