Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: August 05, 2012 11:56 IST
Now that is a dream career graph. Sushil Kumar Sambhajirao Shinde, once a police sub- inspector is now India's Home Minister, the boss of all law and order in the country.
Mr Shinde will also serve as the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. He replaces Pranab Mukherjee, who is now President of India
The veteran Congressman is known for being an affable, soft-spoken politician with very few foes. He is also known to be a Gandhi family loyalist; he is said to have grown close to the Congress' first family when he got charge of Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s. He was Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's election manager in Amethi during the 1999 Lok Sabha polls; she won by a margin of about 30 lakh votes. The association has stood him in good stead.
Mr Shinde was born on September 4, 1941 in Maharashtra's Solapur, in a poor family. His father was a cobbler by profession. And a Dalit. That detail would be defining in his political career. He graduated with an Arts Degree from the Dayanand College in Solapur and then obtained a law degree from Shivaji University in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
He began his career as a bailiff in a Solapur court and later joined the Maharashtra Police and served as a sub-inspector for six years. Fellow Maharashtrian Sharad Pawar is credited with suggesting to Mr Shinde that he join politics. The two are said to have become friends while Mr Shinde was investigating a case in Mumbai; Mr Pawar was then a Congress leader in the party's state unit. It was 1971.
Mr Shinde won his first election to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1974 from a reserved constituency, Karmala, in his home district of Solapur. A year later, then Maharashtra chief minister VP Naik, inducted him as a junior minister in the government a few months later. There was no looking back. Mr Shinde won four Maharashtra Assembly elections in 1978, 1980, 1985 and 1990 and presented nine budgets as the state's finance minister, under different chief ministers.
Many people first heard of Mr Shinde at the national level in 2002, when the Congress nominated him to compete against the ruling National Democratic Alliance's Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in election for Vice President. Former cop against former cop. Mr Shinde lost the election, in a foregone conclusion
For many years Mr Shinde was seen as the perpetual Chief Minister in waiting; in Maharashtra politics, the powerful Marathas have always held sway and a Dalit didn't really stand a chance. But he did become the state's first Dalit CM in 2003, when old friend Vilasrao Deshmukh lost his job; his detractors had suggested that he did not have the wherewithal to win elections in 2004. A year later, despite the Congress-NCP combine winning the 2004 Assembly elections, Mr Deshmukh as picked as CM not Mr Shinde. A Maratha was back at the helm.
Mr Shinde was sent to Andhra Pradesh as Governor. As he is wont to do, he accepted that decision quietly. He was soon back at the Centre after winning a Rajya Sabha seat in 2006 and duly became power minister, a post he held till early this week.
He has been married to Ujwala S Shinde for 42 years and has three daughters. One of them, Praniti, is a Congress MLA in Maharashtra. Mr Shinde has written books in English and Marathi, including the popular "Vichar Ved" in his mother tongue which was later translated into Hindi as "Vichar Manthan."
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