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Profile: home for Shinde

The career of Sushilkumar Shinde, 70, is reminiscent of that of VP Menon, the man who had played a key role in the integration of more than 500 states with the Union after 1947.

mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2012 18:51 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The career of Sushilkumar Shinde, 70, is reminiscent of that of VP Menon, the man who had played a key role in the integration of more than 500 states with the Union after 1947.

Shinde, who belonged to a Dalit family and worked as a bailiff in court to fund his education, started his career as a sub-inspector with the Mumbai police and is now Union home minister.

Menon, from being a clerk, became one of the most powerful men of the country as secretary to Vallabhbhai Patel, the country's first home minister.

Though in theory all cabinet ministers are of the same rank, the home minister has a pre-dominant position, which will give Shinde an edge over agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, once his mentor who initiated Shinde into politics.

It is said that on the call of Pawar, Shinde quit his police job to join politics and got a break soon after to contest bypolls from Karmala in Solapur in 1974.

Shinde won by 25,000 votes and since then has not looked back.

However, he fell out with Pawar in the 1980s but continued his journey with the Congress.

He was Maharashtra finance minister for several terms and holds the record of presenting nine consecutive annual budgets in the legislature.

"He is taking over as home minister in very difficult times. The situation in the country seems grim at the moment and he has a challenging task ahead of him. I know he will handle it well but it's going to be stressful," said Praniti, Congress legislator from Solapur and Shinde's youngest daughter.

Ratnakar Mahajan, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson, said: "Shinde has risen through the ranks and that gives him an advantage."

In 2003, he was picked to be chief minister of Maharashtra to lead the party during the elections of 2004. Though the Congress preserved power in Maharashtra, he lost chief ministership to the very man he replaced - Vilasrao Deshmukh.

However, he did not complain and was content with governorship of Andhra Pradesh.

Finally his loyalty to the party has paid dividends.