06/22/2007, 00.00
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Cardinal Toppo: Patil would be a good president

by Nirmala Carvalho
The president of India’s Bishops’ Conference comments on Pratibha Patil candidacy for president with AsiaNews. She has been in politics for years and has long opposed Hindu extremism. She would be the first women President.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Today the leaders of the United Progressive Alliance (Upa) will official indicate the candidacy of Pratibha Patil for President of India.  Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, president of the Indian Catholic Bishops Conference, comments favourably on the choice, an ulterior demonstration of the public role of the nation’s women.  

Pratibha Patil resignation as governor of  Rajasthan were accepted today. The women, 72 years old, who has a long political history emerged at the last moment, on June 14th ass a compromise candidate, after days of heated argument and vetoes within the coalition government. The left consistently rejected Shivraj Patil, put forward by the Congress Party and in turn proposed Pratibha Patil. Even the current president, APJ Abdul Kalam, had voiced his openness to another mandate.  The National Democratic Alliance had upon till now refused to support the woman.

Patil, commenting on the candidacy said “This sends a very positive message. It says that India values the contributions made by women.” She then thanked the coalition and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her show of trust. Talking to journalists she said she was "extremely happy" about her nomination and said that she would work for removing disparities in society if elected to the highest Constitution post. Patil said she respected Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, her likely opponent in the Presidential poll.

Speaking with AsiaNews, Card. Toppo said “the Catholic Church welcomes her candidature” and recalls that since independence, in 1947, India has adopted various laws “to help and protect women”.  “More women now serve in the armed forces, in senior corporate, media and government positions, and there are more girls in schools One-third of seats in village councils are now reserved for women. Sadly however, in certain rural areas in India, women are still relegated to a secondary status; this will give a great boost to Women all over the country, that it is possible for one of their own kind to be President of the largest democracy in the world. Indira Gandhi, was the First women Prime Minister so now India is poised to welcome her First Woman President”.

“Pratibha Patil – concludes the Cardinal - emerged as the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) nominee for President and the UPA claims to be a secular party. As the Governor of Rajasthan, refused to sign the Anti-Conversion Bill and stood her mettle”, a law already approved in other States by non confessional parties.  Similar laws are upheld by Hindu and Muslim extremists who are clearly religiously motivated. “Thus proving beyond doubt her secular credential and her ability to withstand any external pressures. She will be a good president”.


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