This Article is From Oct 21, 2014

They are Sisters, Lawmakers and Maharashtra's Gen Next Politicians

Pritam Munde (left)and her sister Pankaja celebrate their victory at the party office in Mumbai (Press Trust of India photo)

Mumbai: Till the results of the Maharashtra Assembly elections were revealed on Sunday, she was the lesser known face in late Union minister Gopinath Munde's family, and stayed in the shadows of her more famous sibling Pankaja.

But now, 32-year-old Dr Pritam Munde is the newly-elected Member of Parliament from Beed, from where she won by nearly seven lakh votes, a victory margin higher than what Prime Minister Narendra Modi got in Vadodara in this year's Lok Sabha election, held in May.

Meanwhile, her sister Pankaja, 35, is seen as the natural heir to the legacy of their late father -- Union minister Gopinath Munde who was killed in an accident in June.

Pankaja defeated estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde from the Nationalist Congress Party or NCP to win her second term as a legislator.

"I was in politics and I am in politics only because of my father," said an emotional Pankaja as she dedicated her win to her father.

The Shiv Sena had already declared that it would not field any candidates against the sisters, but Pritam feels her victory cannot be merely attributed to the 'sympathy factor'.

"Calling it a sympathy wave is unfair. They (people) believe that we will be carrying forward the legacy, it's the belief people had in us. It's the common man's choice. Calling it dynasty (politics) is not appropriate," she told NDTV.

But the two have big shoes to fill. A mass leader from the Other Backward Classes or OBC community, Gopinath Munde had worked his way up. He had started out as a student activist and slowly moved up the rungs of the political ladder, from deputy Chief Minister in Maharashtra to Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, to the post of Rural Development Minister in PM Modi's Cabinet, days before his death on June 3.

This, ironically, on a day he was heading home to Beed to attend victory celebrations.

While Pritam is the more reluctant politician - she gave up a government job as a doctor to contest the election -- Pankaja, through her sangharsh (trust) rallies across the state, has been building on her father's legacy to secure her own base.

Young, educated and ambitious, Pritam and Pankaja Munde are part of the new crop of Gen Next politicians. They have benefitted from a dynastic push to make their debut, but know the pressure will be on them to sustain the momentum.