From the über-chic environs of Milan amid fashion luminaries like Georgio Armani and Gianni Versace to the dustbowls of Marathwada slugging it out with politicians double her age, 27-year-old Preeti Shinde has made a reverse journey of sorts.
Shinde, an MBA in Fashion Marketing from the Milan-based Insituto Europeo di Design, seems to be an unlikely candidate for the general elections in Nanded, where the only fashion accessories are multi-coloured bandanas people tie to escape the searing heat wave.
However, Shinde, as a Lok Sabha candidate from Vinay Kore’s Jan Surajya Party, is giving established politicians in Nanded sleepless nights, as she takes on CM Ashok Chavan’s brother-in-law Bhaskarrao Bapurao Khatgaonkar, in the CM’s home turf of Nanded.
A fiery orator who is proficient in Marathi as well as Italian, Shinde is the daughter of ex-IPS officer Madhu Shinde and was born in Jalgaon but has spent the bulk of her life in Mumbai.
After completing her masters in Political Science, Shinde went to Italy to complete her MBA.
After returning from Italy, she had been working with a textile firm, Alok Industries, as an assistant sourcing manager.
A chance meeting with the 37-year-old Vinay Kore, the chief patron of Jan Surajya Party and cabinet minister in the Maharashtra government, however, made her decide to take the plunge in electoral politics.
“We all tend to live insulated lives, not understanding what goes on in far away areas. I always wanted to do something for the nation. However, it was only after meeting Kore that I decided to3 turn my words into action,” says Shinde.
Kore decided to field Shinde as one of the two candidates of the party and asked Shinde to shift base to Nanded and work with the party cadre. In her three-month stay at Nanded, Shinde claims to have visited close to 800 hamlets and settlements in her constituency.
However, many voters believe that Shinde may not emerge triumphant in the elections, but her presence has forced established politicians work harder to woo the voters.
“The voters of Nanded didn’t have an option apart from the two main political parties, both of whom have failed in developing this area. Shinde provides us an alternative to them,” says Shankar Waghmare, a voter from the constituency.
Shinde, however, believes that she is in the race to win.
“I had read somewhere that Bharat and India are two different ideas. The India of the city’s middle class is pitched against the Bharat of the village folk. My aim is to work towards making these two ideas come together and strive for inclusive growth of everyone.”