The debutants
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The debutants

These elections have seen the charge of the youth brigade into the 15th Lok Sabha. Hindustan Times gives you an introduction of 13 first-time Members of Parliament, all below the age of 40. Read on...

india Updated: May 24, 2009 11:51 IST
Hindustan Times

It helps if your father is chief minister

Shimoga’s first-time MP keeps a hard, 6-00 am to midnight schedule at home in Shikaripura town in Shimoga, and even during visits to Bangalore. A fitness enthusiast, he starts his day with a game of badminton on a plot near his home with a few friends, followed by stretching exercises, and a brisk walk. A shower and an elaborate pooja, followed by a plate of akki roti (rice flour rotis) made by his wife Thejaswini for breakfast come next.

BY Raghavendra, 35
Son of
: BS Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka
Constituency: Shimoga, Karnataka
Party: BJP
Education: BBM

Besides managing his father’s constituency, Shikaripura, the soft-spoken Raghavendra also heads a trust which runs several schools and colleges — including a nursing college named after his mother Maithradevi and an engineering college in Shimoga. Like his father, Raghavendra began his political career as a municipal legislator. He was member of the Shimoga Municipal Corporation, before he contested the Lok Sabha polls and defeated the Congress’s S Bangarappa, by an impressing margin of 52, 893 votes.

A great admirer of freedom fighters, his two sons are named Subhash and Bhagath after Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh.

Pawar’s liberated daughter roots for education

As a teenager, Supriya Sule nee Pawar hated her parents for not allowing her to go to the discos. “Choose what you want to be but educate yourself well,” Sharad Pawar told her. “They said I could not go to parties or discos and had to be home by seven pm, at least until I was 21.” At 21, though, Supriya, was married.

Supriya Sule, 39
Daughter of
: Sharad Pawar
Constituency: Baramati, Maharashtra
Party: NCP
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Jai Hind College in Mumbai

Later, Supriya enrolled for a Master’s (she wrote a paper on water pollution) from Berkeley University, but had to abandon it half-way through — “to my eternal regret”. Her education, says Supriya, has made her “very liberated”. “Not in terms of the clothes we wear [which is traditional — either sarees or salwar kameezes] or partying, but in our thoughts. We do not have much patience for the caste system, or class distinctions. Language is important to us only as a means of communication. I am not hung up on English and I have nothing particular or Marathi, except that my children should get to learn their mother tongue.”

Besides education, Supriya also set up a women’s self-help group that supplies Rs 3.5 crore worth of goods to Big Bazaar in Mumbai annually. “I want to take that to the next level.” Supriya’s concern now is water. “I am frightened that water resources are shrinking and wonder how we will provide this scarce resource to everyone down in the villages. Electricity and health can be improved over time but the thought of depleting water supply is frightening.”

From banking to the badlands of Uttar Pradesh

Though he had a good job as an investment banker, Jayant couldn’t resist the temptation of politics. Both his grandfather and his father, the RLD chief, had held key portfolios in Union governments past.

Jayant Chaudhury, 30
Son of: Ajit Singh, grandson of Charan Singh
Constituency: Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Party : Rashtriya Lok Dal
Education: Post-graduate in finance, London School of Economics

“I wasn’t fully satisfied with what I was doing. In my heart, I knew that ultimately I would be joining politics and here I am,” he says. “However,” he mourns, “politics these days is devoid of any philosophy. So as a young MP, it’s a challenge for me to keep learning.”

Jayant hated Sanskrit in school, loves dal baati, a special dish from Mathura, and thinks Goa is the best place for a holiday.

To Parliament on the Mamata express, from Tollywood

Till the other day, Satabdi Roy was one of the most familiar faces in Tollywood. Starting her career in the eighties with films by leading directors like Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha, Satabdi was the number one heroine for several years, and acted in several hit films with the other actor-MP from the Trinamool Congress, Tapash Paul.

Satabdi Roy, 40
Daughter of: Miriganko Banerjee, senior executive in a private company Constituency: Birbhum, West Bengal
Party: Trinamool Congress
Education: Graduate in humanities from Jogmaya Devi College, Kolkata

In the past two years, she has also ventured into direction.

Satabdi’s entry into politics surprised both political circles and her friends. And campaigning was no cakewalk. For one, celluloid stars do not cut much ice with voters in Bengal, and two, Satabdi’s opponent was the formidable Braja Mukherjee, a former district secretary of the CPI(M) in Birbhum. But by all accounts, Satabdi more than stood up to the rigours of electioneering. She campaigned door to door, whipping up hysteria, and won comfortably with a margin of 61,519 votes.

He’s doing it for father

Kamlesh’s father was a legislator from the Maniram assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh, elected thrice as an independent candidate and once on a BJP ticket. He was murdered in 1996, just as he was gearing up to contest the Lok Sabha elections. That’s when young Kamlesh made up his mind to join politics.

Kamlesh Pandey, 33
Son of
: slain independent/BJP MLA Om Prakash Paswan
Constituency: Basgaon (near Gorakhpur), UP
Party: BJP
Education: High school graduate from St Paul’s, Gorakhpur. Family compulsions kept him from continuing his studies

“My father always stood up for the poor. Had I not taken to politics, it would have meant ditching my father and the values he stood for. So I decided to step into his shoes,” he says.

Kamlesh loves non-vegetarian food, especially fish; thinks Goa is the best place for a holiday, hated chemistry and physics in school (but loved cricket!) and believes that young politicians “have a far greater responsibility as the majority of the people do not like politicians. It’s important that we change the mindset of the people about politics and politicians.”

Like mother, and uncle, Malda is her borough

The shy lawyer, working with Fox & Mondol, a leading solicitor’s firm in Kolkata, shot into prominence last year when she the Congress leadership asked her to contest from Sujapur assembly seat, which fell vacant after the death of her mother, Rooby Noor. Noor won easily.

Mausam Benazir Noor, 29
Daughter of: (late) Ruby Noor, MLA
Constituency: Malda North, West Bengal
Party : Congress
Education: LLB

But even before she had had time to settle down, the Congress high command wanted her to become an MP from Malda. It was a new challenge for the niece of the legendary ABA Gani Khan Chowdhury. No one was confident of her win, but Noor sailed through with an emphatic margin. Despite being in politics, Noor is an introvert, who loves to spend time with her two sisters.

Mumbai to Houston, now back in Bolangir

The odds were were stacked heavily against Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo in Bolangir. But he proved the pundits wrong by wresting Bolangir from the BJP.

Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, 34
Son of: AU Singh Deo, cabinet minister in the Orissa Government
Constituency: Bolangir, Orissa
Party : BJD
Education: Doon School, BA (Economics) from St Stephens College

Kalikesh studied at the Doon School, like his father and Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik. He began his career in 1996 with ITC Classic Finance; a year later he switched to Enron International where he worked as project developer in Mumbai and Houston, US until 2002. He entered politics that year and was MLA from 2004 to 2009.

Kalikesh loves holidaying in India and abroad, but Bhitarkanika sanctuary in Orissa is his favourite. Asian cuisine — Thai, Japanese and Chinese — is his favourite. Known for his sartorial elegance, Kalikesh likes “comfort dressing”.

Kalikesh is grandson of former Orissa chief minister R.N. Singh Deo. In the Lok Sabha elections, he was pitted against Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo of the BJP, three time incumbent MP. Incidentally, Sangeeta’s husband KV Singh Deo is another grandson of RN Singh Deo.

Uncle’s weakness, his ticket to the Lok Sabha

Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal has reportedly just one weakness, his nephew Sameer. Though it’s Sameer’s first time in the Lok Sabha, he sounds unfazed.

Sameer Bhujbal, 35
Nephew of: Chhagan Bhujbal
Constituency: Nashik, Maharashtra
Party : Nationalist Congress Party
Education: BE (civil), Mumbai

After all, he has watched politics from close quarters from an early age. “I used to handle party work,” he says. That had its downsides too. When Bhujbal Sr was alleged to be linked to the Telgi stamp paper scam in 2004, Sameer was questioned too.

Sameer defeated Shiv Sena heavyweight Datta Gaikwad and more importantly, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s Hemant Godse in a keenly contested battle in Nashik. When not preoccupied with politics, Sameer loves to read books and travel around the country.

Lok Sabha battle won, it’s time to get married

Having won his maiden battle for Lok Sabha membership, PK Biju is getting ready for another test — he will be tying the knot next week, on May 30.

PK Biju, 35
Son of
: Kuttappan
Constituency: Alathur (reserved), Kerala
Party: CPI(M)
Education: Post-graduate from MG University, Kottayam
Career before joining politics: Research

The son of a poor family that still lives in a thatched house, Biju joined the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI(M), when he was only 12, rising to become its all-India president.

The graduate in chemistry also now engaged in research in the area of polymer chemistry. His bride-to-be Viji Vijayan is similarly a bio-chemist. An avid reader, Malayalam novelist MT Vasudevan Nair is his favourite writer.

Husband in state legislature, wife in centre

Qaisar Jahan took to politics on her husband’s insistence. Coming from a non-political background, she had slowly inched her way up and was chairperson of Leharpur Municipal Council when her husband asked her to aim high and contest the Lok Sabha election.

Qaisar Jahan, 35
Wife of: J Ansari, sitting BSP MLA
Constituency: Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
Party: Bahujan Samaj Party
Education: Until Class Eight
Career before joining politics: Housewife

She did and won too. Qaisar Jahan’s favourite food is paneer, and it’s Nainital, up in Uttarakhand, that she likes escaping to from north India’s scorching summer. Math was her most-hated subject in school, and doing social work gives her a big high.

The prize for rebellion

Nilesh’s father, former chief minister Narayan Rane, left the Shiv Sena and joined the Congress in Maharashtra in 2005. The Congress denied him the chief ministership but it did give a party ticket to Nilesh from the Sindhudurg Ratnagiri seat in the Konkan (coastal region) where the Ranes wield plenty of power.

Nilesh Rane, 27
Son of: Narayan Rane, Maharashtra industries minister and former chief minister
Constituency: Sindhudurg Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
Party: Congress
Education: PhD in Sociology (his thesis was on Maharashtra’s industrial growth)

Nilesh justified the party’s decision when he defeated Suresh Prabhu of the Shiv Sena, former Union Minister for power, and the man he and his father had helped get elected when they were in the Sena.

In contrast with his father’s gruff image — a legacy from his days in the Sena, some say — Nilesh is soft-spoken. His wife, Priyanka, is daughter of senior Congress leader from Ahmednagar, Rajendra Abasaheb Raje Nimbalkar, and actively campaigned for her husband.

He always wants to be in control, especially of his SUV

Until two months ago, Ravneet Bittu could never have thought that he would get a Lok Sabha ticket, much less become a Lok Sabha MP. His only claim to fame was that he was the grandson of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh who was assassinated in office.

Ravneet Singh Bittu, 33
Son of
: (Late) Sawarnjit Singh and grandson of former chief minister Beant Singh
Constituency: Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Place: Kotla Afghana village in Ludhiana
Party: Congress
Education: High school graduate

Not a known face in state politics, his proximity to former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has clearly paid off. Last year, he was appointed Punjab Youth Congress chief, which brought him into contact with Rahul Gandhi.

And soon his fortunes changed. He got the Congress ticket from Anandpur Sahib, which was denied to senior leader and Union minister Ambika Soni. Bittu, of course, came good, defeating his Akali contender, Daljit Singh Cheema, by an impressive margin.

Soft-spoken and humble, Bittu likes Punjabi food and wants to be in control, especially of his SUV. Generally well dressed in a pink turban, Bittu can be seen touching the feet of elderly people in his constituency.

Lives Punjabi, eats Chinese, reads Dale Carnegie

Vijay Singla is quite the Punjabi in that he loves Chinese food. Vegetarian Hakka noodles, Brooklyn butter mushrooms, along with baby corn in hot garlic sauce, garlic fish and chicken hot and sour soup are his idea of a feast.

Vijay Inver Singla, 36
Son of: (Late) Sant Ram Singla, two-time MP from Patiala
Constituency: Sangrur, Punjab
Party: Congress
Education: Computer Engineer

The student of Yavindra Public School in Patiala says he hated math the most in school. What he liked instead was horse-riding but rues he does not get much time for it these days “due to my political engagements”.

He reads, too, books like How to Win Friends of Influence People. Goa is his favourite holiday destination and all his past 10 holidays have been spent on the beaches there with his family. Politics, he feels “should not be used as a platform to further your business interests. It is an opportunity to serve the people, especially the downtrodden.”

First Published: May 24, 2009 11:10 IST