October 3, 2009 4:41:54 am
At an event in a Solapur college,Praniti Shinde,28,makes a fervent appeal: Im one of you.
Few believe it theres a distinct South Mumbai twang to her well-practised line in Marathi but theres loud applause for the daughter of veteran Solapur Congress leader,the states first Dalit Chief Minister and now Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
There was never any clash between my city education and my life here in Solapur. We were brought up like that,with a dual life, says the candidate who went to Bombay Scottish High School and did her BA from St Xaviers College,Mumbai. We visited often,almost once a month.
She has been running an NGO,Jai Jui,in Solapur for five years now,offering employment-generation schemes and even a data-entry and digitisation BPO for unemployed,educated youth.
Also a law graduate from Government Law College,Churchgate,Shinde has done her homework about Solapur and its issues but that shes new to the cut and thrust of politics is clear. Ask her about reservations and she says,To an extent,based solely on economic criteria,for a couple of years,I think its okay.
You cant ignore caste in a semi-urban area where society is still divided along those lines and some castes are still developing, she adds.
Her father was a police sub-inspector who quit his job to become a politician. Elected five times from Solapur,he contested and was elected even from an unreserved constituency. He is expected to campaign for her in the last lap,as is Bollywood star Salman Khan.
Ask her the obvious question about politicians sons and daughters getting tickets,her reply is obvious: There is no such thing as dynasty politics. Like in any other profession,weve grown up in an atmosphere that helps us understand politics better,understand and know a constituency better. Just like a doctors son or a lawyers son,we are obviously more inclined to take up the same profession. But credit is given on the basis of merit. Everybody who got a ticket has done work in his area.
There is a connect with the youth,though. When she speaks impromptu about the need to exercise their franchise,they listen. When she says Solapur needs jobs and industrialisation,unlike what happened in West Bengal, they cheer. And then theres the punchline: Give me 10 minutes of your time on October 13 and I promise to give you my life.
She drops guard when she begins to talk about herself,about missing college life and about what she does when shes not being a politician. I listen to music,I love English retro,I am quite filmi. Ask her about St Xaviers College festival Malhaar and her face lights up. Yes,I was in the Informals Committee and had a great time. I love Xaviers, she says,reeling off professors names. I miss driving to college,the hanging around,the cheese-capsicum sandwich in the canteen and the cheese onion dosa outside the college.
She has a Cocker Spaniel,Scotch,who she dotes on,and is also a huge animal lover with long-term memberships with the WWF and the SPCA. She works out at a gym in Mumbai regularly but since Solapur is yet to get a modern gym,she ensures she does her squats and pushups at home.
Her campaign received a shot in the arm when the Shiv Sena city unit chief who had filed his nomination as a rebel,withdrew and joined the Congress. Im a normal girl, she says,her eyes flashing,just a normal girl. Ive campaigned before for my dad,but I wake up in the morning and it hits me that Im the candidate this time.
As per her election affidavit,her assets add up to Rs 1.92 crore,including a flat in Dadar worth Rs 46.16 lakh and a bungalow in Solapur worth Rs 90.29 lakh.
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