Ramdev fan, Versace as client, actress Navneet Kaur Rana in Congress list

Written by Maulshree Seth | Maulshree Seth | ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai/Lucknow | Updated: Mar 12 2014, 19:08pm hrs
Navneet Kaur Rana, the Congress candidate from Amravati, is an actress who has romanced the likes of Captain Vijaykanth and Mamooty on the screen, and a well-known disciple of Baba Ramdev. Navneet, 27, is contesting against the Shiv Senas Anandrao Adsul, the sitting MP.

She is the wife of Ravi Rana, Badneras independent MLA, who is better known as Flex Kumar for his penchant for putting up flex posters with his pictures across the town.

What makes her candidature interesting is the fact that despite being a close associate of Ramdev, whom she addresses as father and who has criticised the UPA-led alliance, Rana has managed to get a ticket from the Congress.

Her nomination has, however, not gone down well with local NCP leaders who have questioned the logic of supporting the wife of a man who took the party on in the 2009 assembly elections and defeated Sulabha Khodke, former MLA and wife of NCP general secretary Sanjay Khodke who is close to Sharad Pawar. Khodke has publicly stated he is not going to campaign for Rana.

The actress also faces allegations of using false records to claim a Scheduled Caste certificate for contesting from Amravati, which is a reserved seat.

Besides, she is the target of personal attacks, with doctored and offensive pictures being circulated on the social media. This is the conspiracy of my opponents who are afraid of defeat, Navneet says.

Born into a Punjabi family, she was brought up in Mumbai and started acting in 2004, in a Kannada film. I have worked with film stars such a sVijaykanth, Junior NTR and Mamooty. I am proficient in seven languages, an exultant Navneet says on the phone.

A chance meeting with Ramdev seems to have changed her life. The yoga practitioner is said to have played a major role in her marriage to Ravi Rana, who organises yoga camps in the locality.

The two met during one such camp and it was apparently Ramdev himself who encouraged them to get married. They did so in 2011 in a mass wedding of 3,000 couples.

Navneet sees no contradiction in a Ramdev disciple being a Congress candidate, though she is noncommital whether Ramdev will campaign for her. He is like a father to me. We have his blessings. No father will wish ill of his own child, she says.

Vaishali Ali runs an export firm of fashion accessories and claims Versace is one of her clients. Vaishali Ali, 43 and mother of two, has become the most talked-about Congress candidate from Uttar Pradesh after the first list was announced.

A Bengali Brahmin by birth, born and raised in Delhi, and married to a Muslim businessman from UPs Mohammadi, Vaishali became the Congresss choice for Sitapur despite the presence of a veteran contender in Ammar Rizvi. She will face sitting BSP MP Kaisar Jahan and party hopper Anil Verma, who is a SP candidate and a three-time MLA from Laharpur in Sitapur.

An economics graduate from Sri Venkateshwara College, New Delhi, Vaishali began as a cost accountant in a Delhi-based company. Later, along with her husband Syed Khursheed Ali, she started her own firm, KV Creations Pvt Ltd, which exports textile fashion accessories, especially buttons.

Vaishali may be a first-timer in politics but is a known name among women social workers in UP.

I was born and brought up in Delhi and had not even seen a village until I got married. It was in 2000 that I decided to do something for the region and started my own NGO. I started organising health camps, says Vaishali, who started her election campaign Tuesday. Last year, she says, she was invited by the House of Commons of Canada for her work on women empowerment in the region.

Mother of a 19-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old boy, Vaishali says, Womens security will be on top of my agenda.

The contest will be a tough one beginning within the party as district cadres consider her an outsider. Also, until now she had been working in the adjoining district of Lakhimpur Khiri, where the party has given the ticket to sitting Congress MP Zafar Ali Naqvi.

I wish to promote the politics of development against the existing politics of caste, says Vaishali.

In her short political career, Vaishali has been associated with two parties. In 2008, Vaishali had joined the Samajwadi Party but quit and joined the Congress in 2010. She was made the district convener of the NGO cell of the Mahila Congress in Sitapur, where she worked through her NGO, KV Sewa Sansthan.

Vaishalis father was chief manager in the State Trading Company Ltd in Delhi and her brother is working with Apple Inc in California.