Felicitating former union minister and senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde on his 75th birthday in Solapur, President Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said it was the democratic system that has provided an opportunity for those from humble backgrounds to hold high offices.
“Politicians such as Shinde, who have humble origins, have achieved their set objectives. We must celebrate this strength provided by our democracy. I have come here to felicitate Shinde, not as a friend or colleague but for this story of struggle”,” Mukherjee said as he reminisced Shinde’s achievements.
By overcoming the odds of an extremely humble background and various handicaps without bitterness, Shinde, he said, rose and to one of the highest positions in the country”
“This shows his steely mind, single-mindedness, courage and determination. His story is the story of India. India too has overcome many difficulties such as backwardness, illiteracy, disease and ignorance. It is the shining example of the success of Indian democracy. Shinde stands out as an inspiration for millions in our country”,” the president said.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao said Shinde rose to ranks because he has exceptional qualities of working without any interest and no bitterness against anyone in mind.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the journey of Shinde is an inspiration to all as he has risen to all occasions against all odds” “Shinde has put a mark on whichever responsibility he held so far. The hanging of terrorist Ajmal Kasab was done during his tenure as union home minister”,” he said lauding him for taking tough decisions.
He added that Shinde should also get active like the way NCP chief Sharad Pawar got active in the state after he turned 75” “The NCP chief is touring all district of states. The same should be done by Shinde though it is not in our interest”,” he quipped.
Earlier, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar recalled the days when he noticed the spark in Shinde during college days and decided to support him in politics” “I met Shinde when he was a college student and I realised that he has a personality that provides ability to lead the stat,” said Pawar.
Shinde, meanwhile, in his felicitation speech, said he was against celebrating his birthday and preferred to spend time with family. “This time the president was invited for my felicitation on my birthday even before I was informed of it. I agreed for it on the condition that the function should be held in Solapur, from where my story began”,” he said. “I have never asked for any responsibilities from the party but got the best of it”, Shinde said.
Shinde was first elected to the state Assembly in 1978 and has been legislator for six times. He was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha. He was the chief minister of the state and was appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh, before taking over as union power minister and then union home minister.
Shinde recalled his struggles of working as a babysitter to being in the state police and practicing law later.