Shweta Bhatt: The political novice who is taking on Modi

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 18:07 hrs

On a day when she ought to be out celebrating her birthday, Shweta Bhatt, now 48, spent the better part of the day rushing to file her nomination papers as her party, the Congress, announced her candidacy for the Gujarat elections very late on.

The wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and a political novice if there was ever any, Shweta knows her chances of uprooting Narendra Modi at the Maninagar constituency is extremely slim. But she believes she stands for "restoring democracy" in Gujarat.

Modi, who had won the 2007 Assembly election, triumphed by more than 75,000 votes from Maninagar. On his quest to win over the state for the third time, Modi now faces a neophyte who was possibly spurred to take up politics over witnessing her husband take on the Gujarat chief minister. Sanjiv accused Modi of orchestrating the 2002 Gujarat riots. Sanjiv had claimed that in the meeting held at the Chief Minister's residence on the day of the riots, Modi told senior administration officials not to act against rioters. He also deposed against Modi before the Nanavati Commission, which was probing the riots.

Sanjiv, who was the Principal of SRP Training School, was later suspended by the state government. Sanjiv was recently charge sheeted for murder in a custodial torture case by a court in Jamnagar district.

It is also interesting to note that Shweta's decision to contest in the elections came a day after the wife of slain former BJP minister Haren Pandya, Jagruti, announced that she will contest polls from Ellisbridge constituency with the Gujarat Parivartan Party ticket to get "justice for her husband from people's court". Haren Pandya was assassinated on March 26, 2003.

What must ring clear in Shweta's head is the fact that on both occasions Modi won the state polls, he won by big margins in Maninagar. But Shweta believes the people would see it her way.

Whether the Congress is using her as a pawn in its attack on Modi or whether Shweta chose to walk this mile, it is clear that this battle is not so distant from being quite personal.

Shweta was at the forefront of the pro-Sanjiv campaign when her husband was arrested last year after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court making his allegation against Modi.

Shewta had plans to join the civil services, and first met Sanjiv at an institute that ran classes for civil services hopefuls in the late 1980s. They got married soon and when Sanjiv was selected for the Indian Police Service, Shweta, gave up her civil services dream and instead worked on setting up an IT company. She now heads the firm.

Also a homemaker, she and Sanjiv have two children, a daughter and son. Her daughter aims to be a doctor and her son is pursuing a graduate programme. Shewta enjoys cooking and is interested in interior design.

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