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President Patil: The controversies and her legacy

Jul 22, 2012 07:11 AM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: From the demure sari-clad surprise candidate of UPA-I to the confident Sukhoi-flying Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, India's first woman president re-wrote history. But the 77-year-old's tenure was also mired in controversy.

In June 2007, a Jalgaon Congressman's wife claimed that Pratibha Patil's brother GN Patil murdered her husband, Vishram G Patil. She accused Pratibha Patil of shielding her brother.

The same month, a women's co-operative bank became insolvent allegedly after it was forced to waive off loans to Pratibha Patil's relatives.

Even Patil's son Rajendra Shekhawat has been accused of misusing her post to wrongly acquire NCC land in Amrawati for a college promoted by him.

March 2012 saw over Rs 1 crore in cash allegedly recovered from Shekhawat's car on the eve of Amrawati's municipal elections. The same month, an RTI query revealed that Patil undertook trips to 22 foreign countries, the most by any president - accompanied some times by several family members.

The trips reportedly cost the exchequer close to Rs 205 crore. But the biggest controversy of them all was the retirement home fiasco in April this year.

An RTI query revealed that Patil was allotted defence land in Pune for a bungalow, the size of which was six times more than she was eligible for. Patil was eventually forced to give up the bungalow.

Even though Afzal Guru's mercy plea is still pending, government officials point out that Pratibha Patil has commuted 35 death sentences, the maximum by any president.