Ahmedabad: Shweta Bhatt is 48 today. She spent a better part of her birthday rushing to file nomination papers since her party, the Congress, announced her candidacy for the Gujarat elections only at the last minute.
Even Mrs Bhatt will not give herself much of a chance as a giant-slayer. In her first election ever, the neophyte takes on the mighty Narendra Modi, who is widely expected to win Gujarat for a third time, in Maninagar, the constituency that has sent him to the state Assembly twice with huge margins.
But the wide smile as she signed her papers - in a red sari and hand-spun Gandhian thread that she had slung around her neck - did not betray any lack of confidence. She was here, she said because "we have moved far away from democracy in Gujarat and to restore it, everyone has to do whatever they can. Fighting against Modi is the logical step in our quest for democracy and to curb anti-democratic forces."
Shweta Bhatt is contesting this election because she is the wife of Sanjiv Bhatt, the IPS officer, right now under suspension, who took on Mr Modi, accusing the Gujarat chief minister of orchestrating the 2002 Gujarat riots. Mrs Bhatt was at the forefront of the pro-Sanjiv Bhatt campaign when her husband was arrested last year after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court making his allegation against Mr Modi.
Shewta wanted to join the civil services and met Sanjiv in late 1980s at an institute that ran classes for civil services hopefuls. They married. Once Sanjiv was selected for the Indian Police Service, Shweta, gave up her civil services dream and instead floated an IT company. She is now the director of the firm. Her friends and family describe her as first a proud homemaker.
The Bhatts have two children, a daughter and a son. While their daughter is studying to be a doctor, the son is pursuing a graduate programme. Mrs Bhatt likes to cook and is interested in interior design.