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A journey into Pratibhatai's past

June 22, 2007
Reportage: Syed Firdaus Ashraf | Photographs: Reuben N V

Gajendra Sissodia and Virendra Singh Patil wept bitterly when Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay preferred A R Antulay over Pratibhatai Patil as Maharashtra's chief minister in 1980.

They then felt there was no justice in the world.

Sissodia and Virendra Patil were among her many supporters who camped in Mumbai that day 27 years ago, expecting her name to be announced as chief minister after the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee meeting.

A year earlier, in 1979, when Sharad Pawar split the Congress party and became the state's youngest-ever chief minister under the Progressive Democratic Front banner, Pratibha Patil took over as Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly.

Coverage: Race to Rashtrapati Bhavan

"Pratibhatai deserved to be chief minister when the Congress returned to power in the 1980 assembly election," says Virendra Patil. "At the MPCC meeting, Antulay's name was surprisingly announced. It was one of the saddest days of life. I wept and felt the party did not do justice to Pratibhatai."

Image: Pratibha Patil's ancestral home in Nadgaon

Also see: How Pratibha Patil was chosen as the Presidential candidate | Images: Vouching for 'Tai' as President

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