After all he is President Pratibha's husband!

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New Delhi, July 25: Mrs Pratibha Patil's husband was one among the dignitaries who attended the 20-minute-long ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament to swear-in the first woman President of the Republic.

Surely, he may not have been noticed by many sitting last in the front row.

But nobody would have missed him at least after the ceremony was concluded.

Silence pervaded the historic Hall in Parliament when Mrs Patil was leaving slowly with folded hands after the simple ceremony.

While outgoing President A P J Abdul Kalam, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha Acting Chairman Rehman Khan were accompanying her, all the dignitaries were standing near their seats and looking straight.

But a man on the front row was an exception who turned back and looking at the first woman President being escorted out in a ceremonial procession.

Many may not have seen before the tall man in white dress, but it was easy to guage from his mannerism that it was none other than the husband of the First Citizen, Devi Singh Shekhawat.

As Ms Patil was moving towards the main exit gate, Mr Shekhawat was seen slowly moving towards another gate near his seat unmindful of the others in the hall still looking straight.

But his movement was briefly interrupted by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje who was the first to congratulate Mr Shekhawat immediately after the ceremony.

In fact, Mr Shekhawat, who sat near BJP President Rajnath Singh throughout the swearing-in proceedings, was the first among the dignitaries to leave the hall after the swearing-in.

Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi sat near in the front row at the swearing-in ceremony of new President Pratibha Patil.

They were seen engaged in a prolonged conversation before the commencement of the 20-minute long ceremony.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was also in the front row with the wife of former President Shankhar Dayal Sharma, Mrs Vimala Sharma, sitting beside.

Though former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat lost his battle in the Presidential election to Mrs Pratibha Patil by a margin of more than 300,000 votes, he was among many dignitaries who came first to the Central Hall of Parliament to witness the swearing-in of the first woman President of India.

Mr Shekhawat, who resigned as Vice-President immediately after the announcement of Presidential election results on July 21, first sat near Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He, however, gave the seat to Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh when he came near the Prime Minister and occupied the seat next to Mr Arjun Singh.

As many as 100 diplomats representing different countries attended the swearing-in ceremony of the 12th President of India.

The diplomats, all in coats and suits, were seen sitting together in a specially allotted space in the gallery.


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