India Elects First Female Prez

Patil to take office amidst scandals
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jul 21, 2007 3:30 PM CDT
An undated photograph made available Thursday, June 14, 2007, shows Pratibha Patil, Governor of Indian state of Rajasthan. Patil was chosen Thursday as the nominee of India's governing coalition for next...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – India elected its first woman to the largely ceremonial office of president today, in a landslide vote among parliament and state politicians. Pratibha Patil's supporters hail her victory as a breakthrough for women's rights in the country, while critics assert her reputation is already marred by a slew of personal and financial scandals.

Patil has been accused of swindling cash from a bank that offers loans to poor women, covering up for her brother in a murder inquiry, making derogatory remarks about Muslims, and being too superstitious for modern India. She denies the charges, and Indian politicians have rallied around the watershed election. "This is a very special moment for us women," Sonia Gandhi said.