The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fashion parade to poll-itics
- Shaina sceptical but if BJP asks, she can't say no

Sept. 17: If faded filmstars and small-screen whatstheirnames can have designs on politics, why not a fashion designer'

Shaina NC, known for the number of ways she can wear a saree, is set to debut from Bandra next month.

The BJP is planning to field the 30-something-come-lately ' she joined the party only on Tuesday ' from the upscale Mumbai suburb in the Assembly elections.

'I have not decided yet. The party is very keen that I contest, but I am a little sceptical. But if the party asks me to contest, I have no choice,' Shaina said.

Pramod Mahajan, the election in-charge, says she fits the bill. She has 'political pedigree', as the daughter of former sheriff Nana Chudasama who was loosely labelled a 'Congressman' by apolitical Mumbaikars. She's good-looking and she's known. But most important, for Mahajan, her mother Munira is a Muslim.

Bandra is a predominantly Muslim constituency that has never held promise for the BJP. The sitting Congress MLA is Babu Siddiqui, a formidable candidate.

But Shaina, Mahajan believes, could break the jinx. And not for her minority connection alone.

'I have a friend who uses the suburban rail service every day and recognises stations by their sight and smell. When he sniffs cattle and dung, he knows it is Jogeshwari (a locality inhabited by the Yadavs of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, selling milk). When he smells perfume and spots women in western clothes, he knows it's Bandra,' the BJP's poll manager says.

Shaina, the party hopes, will be able to rope in stars as campaigners in the fashionable suburb that is home to several high-profile Mumbaikars.

The buzz is that Smriti 'Tulsi' Irani was considered for the seat. But after losing to Kapil Sibal in Delhi's Chandni Chowk, the country's best-known bahu did not want to risk defeat again so soon. Besides, the BJP decided she would be unsuitable because she was seen as too 'traditional'.

Shaina, with her 'Indian looks' and 'western attitude', is the 'ideal combination' to straddle the gulf between traditional and modern Bandra.

Described by Mahajan as the only 'politically serious' contribution from celebritydom to the BJP other than Smriti, Shaina has been quoted as saying she wants to 'change politics for the better'.

'I have joined the BJP as it is a progressive party. My father told me, in every party there will be five things you like and five things you don't. If you are in the party, you stand a better chance of changing what you don't like.' She's not saying what she wants to change.

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