Politician, activist, designer, wife, mother, daughter and a significant social figure — Shaina NC has clearly mastered the art of multitasking over the years. The war-like pace of her life sometimes entails more than 18 hours in a day; however, the spirited lady manages to do it with effortless ease. I meet Shaina at her famed atelier located in the artisanal Kala Ghoda and I see that she has way too much on her plate. The national spokesperson for the BJP has just got back after a nine-day assembly election campaign tour and is leaving for Delhi the next day for another assignment. However, she still manages to turn her hawk-like focus towards the sari display at the store and asks her staff to rearrange it to make it more impactful. Over to her...
The flip side of politics
“Guilt — oozing out of every part of my body. When I was leaving for Rajasthan, I was supposed to come back in two-three days and I kept telling my kids each day that I’ll be back and on the last day when I was talking to my son, he said, ‘Mama only when you are on the flight tell me otherwise don’t!’ But it’s a great high. The kind of response we get from public and the kind of goodwill that’s generated when you interact with them kind of makes up for it,” she says.
A woman politician
“There are tremendous pressures and challenges I face since it’s a totally male-dominated spectrum. More and more women from different walks of life need to come and assert themselves and not just be on the periphery but be part of the decision-making. I am the first woman treasurer BJP has ever had from Maharashtra which not just comes with a lot of responsibility but also credibility. It’s a powerful post and I was most hesitant to take it since all along I have been a spokesperson or a secretary of the party,” she says.
“When I joined politics, 10 years ago, everyone thought this was one more person from the glamour world who had come, who’d fight an election and disappear. That was really disturbing. I lost my first election but I wanted to prove what I am capable of and I didn’t give up. I was first in the Mumbai team of the BJP and then got on to the Maharashtra team and then to the National executive committee. Now I am in the panel of national spokespersons as well as a treasurer of Maharashtra. I have always believed that if you really work hard and show your capability then there’s no stopping you,” she shares.
Differences with the party
Recently it was reported that some members from the BJP went to former Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury’s house and blackened the nameplate. “Nobody subscribes to that. In fact, the party itself has disassociated from it completely. You can always be a legitimate voice of dissent within your party. And the party accepts that. Like my issues which I’d like to take on would be very different from somebody else’s. It’s very doable,” she says matter-of-factly.
Being a South Mumbai girl
“Politics is something I’ve grown up with. Everybody in school and college would always say that this girl is going to enter politics for sure. I love public. You put me in front of 10,000 people and ask me to speak in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English, I’ll speak without worrying about what’s going to be the reaction. I think somewhere if you have a little bit of humility considering the background you have, it helps. If I had come with arrogance there was no chance I would have survived.”
Embracing the sari
“I just love saris and am passionate about it and want to take it beyond just being a national costume to international forums. The idea is that maximum people have to understand what India has to offer. I think it’s such a waste of time to flaunt western cocktail dresses and ape the West. I wear kurtas too but predominantly wear saris.”
Husband’s unstinting support
“If you get six hours of sleep during the elections it’s a big deal. It’s a tough life and so many people want to enter politics but it’s difficult to sustain. If I didn’t have the support of my husband I wouldn’t be able to do it. He is not threatened by my success. We’ve known each other since I was 18 and it’s a life-long relationship. I was born into my parents’ house but it’s my husband who let me bloom and groom. He is not your typical male chauvinist Indian man.”
Being a mum
“It’s amazing how my kids have grown so independent. They have learnt to fend for themselves which is a great quality. I’ve never been an overtly obsessive mother who morning, noon and night fusses about what the children have done and where they are going. Maybe because I grew up with working parents as well. I remember it was after 26/11 and everyone was bashing politicians and in my daughter’s class everyone was talking very badly about political figures and my daughter stood up and said that ‘not all politicians are bad and look at what my mother is doing. She is running from one hospital to another’. That was a big high for me.”
Juggling enemies and camps
Over the years she has managed to be friends with both Shah Rukh and Salman Khan. “I think they are all good friends and I have never seen it as this camp or that. The USP is always to befriend everybody and not talk loosely about anyone. If you are diplomatic in your approach, you can be friend with everyone. Fortunately for me, I have known them even before I entered politics. I don’t get into jhik jhik with anyone. To each his own. I stood up for Shah Rukh when there was an agitation against My Name Is Khan and I have also stood up for Salman when he was in trouble. I think they appreciate genuine friendships because the world and their neighbours want to be their friends,” she signs off.