No one from the Thackeray family had contested the elections — till now. But 40-year-old Shalini is all set to change it, becoming the first member from the family to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North West on a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) ticket.
Shalini is the wife of Jitendra, a grandson of Damodar Thackeray. Damodar is the brother of Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s father.
A BCom graduate from Podar College in Matunga and a Master of Business Administration from the US, Shalini is a member of the MNS since it was formed.
“I am contesting the election, not as a member of the Thackeray family but as a party worker,” she said.
Neither Bal Thackeray nor his son Uddhav or nephew Raj have contested the elections, ever.
“Education and open spaces would be the main issues for which I will stand. Compared to the island city, the suburbs, especially the western suburb, needs more open spaces for grounds for children to play,” she said, adding that infrastructure would also be one of her main issues.
“I am working in the area since the last six months and getting cooperation from all types of people, beyond religion and caste. People want change now. I find challenge only in that the people should come out to vote.”
Her opponent and Shiv Sena candidate Gajanan Kirtikar has said that she is not a challenge for him. “Shalini is not even a Maharashtrian. So her candidature would not affect my Marathi votes. I worked for the Marathi manoos since the last 20 years and I am confident about my victory.”
Shalini, however, has retaliated, saying: “My father is a Punjabi and I was born in Rae Barelli as my mother is from Uttar Pradesh. I married a Maharashtrian. So, now I am a Maharashtrian and I have adopted the culture, exactly what the MNS stands for. Now I can speak fluent Marathi. This is what my party expects from people and nothing wrong in it.”