Hyderabad : Pratibha Patil, presidential candidate of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Friday said her election to the highest office of the country would be a victory of "crores of citizens of the country".
Addressing a meeting of MPs and MLAs of the ruling Congress here as part of her campaign for the July 19 election, she said: "I do not regard this as my election alone, but I rather believe that my election will be a victory for the crores of citizens of this great country."
During her six-hour visit to the city, Patil met leaders of Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M).
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which were also Congress' electoral allies in 2004, stayed away from the meeting, ignoring the ruling party's invitation.
While TRS is yet to take a decision on whom to support in the presidential poll, MIM has decided to abstain to protest Patil's remarks on 'purdah' or veil tradition among Muslim women.
"I will have the honour, when elected, of serving as India's first woman president. Sixty years after our independence, the highest constitutional office in our republic will be held by a woman," she said while reading from a prepared text.
"The 2007 presidential election will be a significant moment in the history of our democracy. I have a unique privilege to be nominated as the candidate of UPA, left parties and other supporting parties for the president's post," she said.
"I have faced many challenges in my long public life. In spite of all the attempts to tarnish my image, I remain steadfast in my commitment to my fellow citizens and my country in the highest and most noble traditions of our democracy and continue to serve the nation with humility and with deep sense of duty," she said in an obvious reference to allegations made by opposition parties.
Earlier, she was accorded a warm welcome at Begumpet Airport by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, president of state unit of Congress party K. Keshava Rao, All India Congress Committee general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in the state Digvijay Singh, state ministers and other leaders.
A large number of women activists of the party were waiting outside the airport. Some women leaders felicitated Patil. She later drove to a guesthouse where she had lunch with the chief minister and other leaders.
Patil is sure to get a major chunk of votes from Andhra Pradesh as the Congress has an overwhelming majority in the state assembly. The party has 191 members in 294-member assembly and a majority of MPs from the state also belong to it.
There are 42 members of the Lok Sabha and 18 of the Rajya Sabha from the state. Congress has 29 Lok Sabha members and 10 in the Rajya Sabha.
The main opposition TDP has five members of the Lok Sabha and six of the Rajya Sabha. The TRS has five members of the Lok Sabha and MIM, CPI and CPI-M one each. CPI and CPI-M also have a member each in the upper house of parliament.
Meanwhile, Digvijay Singh appealed to both the TRS and the MIM to support Patil. He told newsmen that he was in touch with both the parties.