Sunday, November 30, 2008 2:31 PM (New Delhi)
Age: 73 years (born October 12, 1935)
Belongs to: Was born in Chakur in Latur district of Maharashtra. Hails from the Lingayat community.
Important posts held: Patil has just stepped down as Union Minister of Home Affairs in the Manmohan Singh government. He was the Speaker of the 11th Lok Sabha and served as minister on several portfolios in the Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi governments.
Patil is a Rajya Sabha member. He was elected to the Upper House in July 2004 after he became one of the few Congress heavyweights to lose his constituency, Latur, in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. As a minister, he would have to belong to one or the other House of Parliament.
Education: Patil studied Science for graduation at the Osmania University in Hyderabad and studied Law at Bombay University.
Political career: Shivraj Patil became politically active in the late 1960s and was an MLA between 1972 and 1979. He was also served as a deputy minister and deputy speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly during the period.
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980, in the wave that brought Indira Gandhi back to power. He then went on to win the next seven elections and by the 13th Lok Sabha that came in in 1999, he was one of the most seasoned Parliamentarians, further cemented by his stint as Lok Sabha Speaker. He introduced the award for Outstanding Parliamentarian in 1995. Of all his achievements, he is personally proud of the Parliament Library, a state-of-the-art building, the construction of which he envisaged and gave shape to.
Shivraj Patil first became a minister in Indira Gandhi's 1980 government and went on to hold many portfolios in both this and the Rajiv Gandhi governments. When Sonia Gandhi became a reluctant president of the Congress, Shivraj held several important party posts.
As a novice Parliamentarian, Sonia Gandhi depended heavily on Shivraj Patil for her first lessons on House matters, further securing him a place in her band of trusted Congressmen. His defeat, thus, in 2004 was a shock but did not keep him from getting an all-important portfolio.
Controversy: The choice of the mild-mannered Shivraj Patil for one of the toughest and most important jobs in the country raised many an eyebrow in political and other circles. There were fears that he would be too weak and ineffective, a charge thrown at him every time there have been terror strikes and Intelligence failures.
He has been criticized for his weak, apologetic and often strange statements and even for his attention to sartorial details. The clamour for his resignation has been loud from almost immediately after he took over, but he managed to hang on. Clearly, this time was once too often.