Lok Sabha elections 2019:Once a political novice, BJP’s Poonam Mahajan has grown steadily
After her shocking defeat in the Maharashtra assembly polls in 2009, Poonam Mahajan worked hard for the parliamentary election in 2014 from the Mumbai’s North East constituency.
Mumbai’s North East seat was represented by her father late Pramod Mahajan, who built the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra. However, closer to the election, she was told that the seat was being given to Kirit Somaiya, a former member of Parliament from the same constituency.
Instead, she was offered Mumbai North Central constituency, which was considered to be a stronghold of the Congress. Her opponent was Priya Dutt, the sitting MP and daughter of well-known Bollywood actor late Sunil Dutt who had represented the constituency.
After initial hesitation, she accepted the seat and took Dutt head on. Many had predicted it as a conspiracy to end her career but when the results came, she emerged as a giant killer as she trounced Priya Dutt by a margin of 1.86 lakh votes. She had led in all the six assembly segments.
In 2016, she was chosen to head the party’s youth wing Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). Senior BJP leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and her father Pramod Mahajan had been the president of the youth wing in the past.
In the last three years, the 39-year-old has earned the confidence of BJP chief Amit Shah who entrusted her with the responsibility. Unlike her cousin and state minister Pankaja Munde, she has been a supporter of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
She has also been instrumental in pushing for several infrastructure projects in the city and also took a lead role in the Global Citizen event in Bandra Kurla Complex that was headlined by the British rock band Cold Play. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the young audience via a video conference from Delhi.
However, she has had her share of controversies as recently she compared Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to Shakuni Mama and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to Manthara, both mythological figures.
The elder daughter of Pramod Mahajan, Poonam stayed away from politics when her father was alive. A business management graduate, she was happily married to businessman Anand Rao Vajendla, living in Mumbai with her husband and two children.
Three years after his death, she sought the party ticket in the 2009 assembly election from Ghatkopar suburb of Mumbai. However, she lost the election and her career did not take off. By then, the dominance of the Munde-Mahajan faction in Maharashtra’s BJP unit was almost over. The Nitin Gadkari faction was not sympathetic to her. Poonam, however, stayed put in the party even though she had a limited scope.
The Modi wave in 2014 changed that. Five years later, Poonam is facing another tough contest in his political career with Priya Dutt as her opponent again. Will she win this time as well?