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Patil kicks up another row
From Ravi S Jha (Our correspondent)

28 June 2007

NEW DELHI � Barely had the dust over Pratibha Patil�s remarks over purdah (veil) settled the presidential candidate seems to have kicked up another row � this time about talking with the dead!

Communicating with ghosts is not a talent that the president of any country can lay claim to. Patil, governor of Rajasthan and the ruling United Progressive (UPA) candidate for the post of president, who is pitted against the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee and vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, says she has faith in �divine premonition�� and she can talk to the dead and execute �para-normal pursuits�.

Patil had recently made an apparently anti-minority remark on the veil, tracing this system in India to what she cited the Mughal invaders� lust for Indian women.

She is also reported to have advocated forcible sterilization, including of Muslims, when she was a minister in the then union government headed by the late Indira Gandhi.

The latest controversy comes at a time when eminent space scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, is set to bid adieu to the highest constitutional office in the country, and is very likely to be succeeded by a person who publicly endorses para-normal activities.

Around a fortnight ago, Patil had told a TV channel at an ashram in Mount Abu in Rajasthan, that she had communicated with the spirit of Baba Lekhraj, who had set up the ashram. Patil had gone to seek the blessings of Hridaymohini Devi, alias Dadiji, a disciple of Baba Lekhraj who founded the Brahma Kumari sect, and died 38 years ago.

�Dadiji ke shareer mein Baba aye...Maine unse baat ki (Baba entered Devi�s body and he communicated to me through her),� she said on TV camera.

She went on to add that that the dead man had even told her to be prepared for a very big responsibility coming her way.

While most of the leaders in India have been known to be spiritual, and even Kalam had visited Brahma Kumaris before becoming president, none has ever gone to the extent of claiming to have exchanged words with the dead.

The UPA partners have reacted strongly to Patil�s claim, with the Left parties, that reportedly played a pivotal part in her nomination, now saying she should avoid talking too much.

When asked if Patil could well be �most controversial presidential candidate ever, CPI-M's Prakash Karat skirted the issue saying: �Ask the Congress. They made her the candidate.�

Congress spokesman Abhisek Singhvi, meanwhile, said: �No person has seen her performing divine activities. Her claims cannot be taken seriously.�

When told that everything she says as a presidential nominee has a definite meaning, Singhvi said: �Whatever the contention, she will be India's next president!�

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