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Pramod Mahajan's daughter joins BJP

Pramod Mahajan's daughter Poonam on Monday formally joined BJP on her father's birth anniversary.
None | By Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2006 08:53 PM IST

In her own words, Poonam Mahajan-Rao has entered the 'qualifying round' of the political game.

On Monday, the 47th birthday of the slain Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Pramod Mahajan, Poonam formally joined the party putting an end to speculation that Mahajan's son, Rahul would be the chosen one.

Poonam completed the joining formalities in the presence of the media—her mama (uncle), senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who gave her the membership fees—as her husband, Anand Rao and brother Rahul looked on.

With her formal entry to the BJP, Poonam has joined the league of the high-profile daughters in Maharashtra's politics.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule has already become a Rajya Sabha MP and is being considered a star campaigner by the NCP for the coming municipal elections.

"I wish Poonam all the best. It's a good sign that more and more young people are joining politics," said Sule.

Former Congress leader late Sunil Dutt's daughter Priya, too, jumped into the fray after her father's demise and now represents Mumbai North West parliamentary constituency.

Youngest daughter of another Congress leader and Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Praniti is also gearing up for her political innings. She has begun her work through an NGO, Jai-Jui in Solapur—her father's parliamentary constituency.

Varsha, a teacher turned Congress legislator, is hopeful of carrying her father, Congress MP from North Central Mumbai Eknath Gaikwad's legacy forward.

Saying her decision to enter politics was a "planned" one, 26-year-old Poonam said her priority was to fulfill her father's incomplete dreams.

"I want to work in every field, especially education and women's issues," she said. "I have a father figure in my uncle (Munde) so I am not worried."

After Mahajan's death, Rahul was tipped off to enter the party. But due to his involvement in the drug scandal that claimed the life of Mahajan's secretary, Bibek Moitra, the party distanced itself from Rahul.

However, despite not being formally enrolled as a member of the BJP, Rahul began his political activity earlier this month when he participated in a BJP rally to protest against demands for clemency for Afzal.

"Rahul himself said he needs more time," Munde said. "This was a decision taken by our family," Rahul added. "I am very happy for Poonam."

Munde also denied that this was an example of dynasty politics. "You could have said so had we made her the All-India General Secretary. But she joins us as a common party worker," he reasoned.

Soon after signing the joining form, Poonam left for New Delhi to meet the party's national leaders. She will also campaign for the BJP for the forthcoming civic polls.

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