What image does you mind create whenever you think of politicians? In India, most politicians are seen in white kurta or saree, hardly educated enough to know the difference between medicine and gomutra. But there are some newbies who actually know the difference and more.
This time, Bihar Assembly polls have an Oxford University alumnus, a masters from the London School of Economics, a former HR head with an electronics company, a former financial adviser to the IDBI, an industrial and textiles designer, and a Commonwealth shooting gold medalist are the candidates for the forthcoming Bihar elections, the first phase of which is on October 28.
Among them is also the grandson of BP Mandal of the Mandal Commission fame. These young, well qualified, political newbies are breaking the stereotype of Bihar netas, known more for their money and muscle power and possessing criminal records longer than their educational qualification.
After finishing her MBA in marketing and advertising, Shalini Mishra, 42, worked in Faridabad, rising to become the HR head of an electronics company. But politics was her calling and today she is the Janata Dal (United)’s candidate from the Kesari seat in East Champaran.
“Education is the only tool that can empower the people in real terms and political representatives ought to work more in this area,” she said, adding that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s vision for inclusive growth lured her to the JD(U).
Trying his luck also is Nikhil Mandal, 45, the grandson of B P Mandal of the Mandal Commission fame. The commission’s report led to reservation for OBCs. After his masters in law, Nikhil worked in the corporate sector and was even the financial adviser with the IDBI. He later practised in the Patna High Court and is now the JD(U)’s candidate from Madhepura. Another young and fresh face is Manish Barriarr, 42, contesting from Patna’s high profile Bankipur seat.
An MBA from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi, and an alumnus of Oxford University, he taught management in a private institute in Patna before launching his own political outfit, Voxxs.
Barriarr’s aim is to bring a change in Bihar’s politics and improve the lives of the common people. He will cross swords with another UK-educated hopeful, Pushpam Priya Choudhary.
After completing her masters in development studies from the University of Sussex, Pushpam did another masters course in public administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the president of a newly-floated political front, Plurals.
Ritu Jaiswal, 35, the wife of a former IAS officer, does not possess a fancy educational degree but is not new to elections. Ritu is currently the mukhiya of Singhwahini village in Sitamarhi and has been fielded by the Rashtriya Janata Dal from the Parihar constituency.
Following her marriage to Arun Kumar, a 1995 batch IAS officer, she taught in a Delhi-based public school before quitting to do social service in Bihar. Disturbed by the pitiable condition in Singhwahini village, she contested and won the election for mukhiya in 2014.
For her work in open defection-free toilets, roads, solar lights, water pumps and community biogas, she bagged the prestigious Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puruskar last year. Also aiming for a slot in the Bihar Assembly is Shreyasi Singh, 29, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist in shooting. She recently joined the BJP and has been fielded from the Jamui seat.
Her prowess with the rifle is matched by her excellence in studies, having graduated from Delhi’s Hansraj College and doing her MBA from a private university. “Politics for me is a chance to show how I can bring change in society and encourage the people to be creative, communicative and entrepreneurs with their own talent,” she said.
Another one in his twenties is Chetan Anand, contesting from Sheohar on an RJD ticket. After finishing industrial and textile designing from an institute in Pune, he began social service and now hopes to be an MLA.