Power destroyed François Hollande's relationship with Valérie Trierweiler, France's former First Lady claimed on Tuesday, insisting that the pair would still be together had her unfaithful ex-partner not become president.
"Low blows", "back-stabbing" and "betrayals" at the Elysée Palace hastened the demise of France's former presidential couple, the spurned Miss Trierweiler, 48, told French political journalists at an informal briefing in Mumbai during a charity trip to India's commercial capital.
"We would still be together had he not become president," she insisted, without elaborating on the link between Mr Hollande's presidential victory and his longstanding affair with Julie Gayet, a 41-year old actress.
Despite the wistful take on their nine-year relationship - to which Mr Hollande officially announced he had "put an end" on Saturday after two weeks of confusion - Miss Trierweiler added that she now "feels liberated not to have the compunctions" of life at the centre of power.
She also argued that the role of First Lady, although unofficial, serves a purpose in France and should not disappear, despite public scepticism over a president's partner being given an Elysée office, staff and perks.
"I don't mind being called 'ex-First Lady'. It's important there is one at the Elysée," she told reporters, adding, however, that she was quite happy to no longer be playing that role.
"I'm vaccinated. You cannot measure just how much betrayal and hypocrisy there is. You are struck by low blows without asking for anything. That's not my way of doing things," said Miss Trierweiler.
She had never had any ambitions for the trappings of political power and the decision to stand for the presidency was her former partner's, she insisted.
"I would have been with him even if he had not become president. The ambition was his alone," she said.
They had spoken on the telephone every day since Mr Hollande announced last weekend that he had decided to end their "shared life together" in a public statement. He had called her in Mumbai where she arrived late on Sunday for a charity launch in defiance of Elysée Palace staff.
"We are not at war," she insisted. "You don't cut off ties from one day to the next."
Responding to criticism in France that Mr Hollande's announcement of their separation sounded like a "letter of dismissal", she said: "(Our) separation was a split, not a dismissal. There was no advance notice."
Presidential aides had opposed her plans to fly to India but she decided to proceed because she had promised she would launch the Fight Hunger Foundation to tackle child malnutrition months before Mr Hollande's affair with Miss Gayet was revealed in Closer, a gossip magazine.
Mr Hollande had telephoned her after her press conference appearance on Monday afternoon, but she stressed their relationship would not be rekindled in the future and indicated she was looking forward to moving on.
Miss Trierweiler said she now intended to make a new career as a humanitarian campaigner and was no longer interested in the "cynicism" of political journalism - her former career before she became First Lady.
"It's an inhuman world full of betrayal," said the mother of three, who started an affair with Mr Hollande in 2005 while he was still officially with Ségolène Royal, with whom he had four children.
The French media kept their affair quiet during the 2007 presidential elections so as not to damage the chances of Miss Royal, the Socialist candidate.
In Mumbai she visited two hospitals in Dharavi, the notorious shanty-town which featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire, and later appeared emotional when she spoke of holding a young child suffering from dysentery and pneumonia in her arms.
"They are innocent and poor, they should not be subject to malnutrition... It shocks me...it does catch my heart and I would like to do something about it," she said at a press conference.
She hopes the visit to promote the fight against child malnutrition in India will be the start of her new life and spoke of her desire to get back to the normality she enjoyed before she became First Lady.
Her wish, she said, was to "focus on humanitarian work" and for the media interest in her to die down. "I want to take time and I'm looking forward to driving myself and having a normal life. The interest will die down and my normal life will come back," she told journalists. "Once they've seen me two or three times shopping, I think the paparazzi will stop."