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India-born politician keeps powerful portfolios in new Danish cabinet

IANS  |  Copenhagen 

India-born Danish politician Manu Sareen, 46, continues to hold some of the most powerful and sensitive portfolios in the new Danish cabinet announced by incumbent Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Sareen is the first male minister in Denmark to hold the portfolios of social welfare, gender equality, church and Nordic cooperation affairs since his induction into the cabinet in 2011.

A social-activist leader of the Danish left Social Liberal Party (the Radikale Venstre Partiet), he brings to the coalition of Thorning-Schmidt's Social Democrats and the Socialist People's Party great influence and much welcome electoral confidence, particularly among the divisive ethnic immigrant minorities in the country.

Although a smaller party, the Radikale Venstre is considered by the country's political pundits as the veritable cornerstone of the coalition.

The premier Danish daily, Tidnigen Berlinske has editorially bestowed a lot of praise and great hope on Sareen.

"There exists a direct bridge between the Social Democrats and the Dansk (Danish Liberal) Folkparti whereby the voters tend to vacillate -- albeit, mostly in one direction -- from left to right," says the prestigious paper's political editor, Bent Winther.

"However, with the integration affairs/policies in the capable hands of Manu Sareen, it can be safely left for many tumultuous flip-flops and conflicts between the two (major) government parties without fear of collapse," Winther stated.

Born in India May 16, 1967, Manu Sareen's family moved to Denmark in 1970, and settled in the Danish island of Amager, in the stait of Oresund that forms part of Denmark's capital Copenhagen.

A trained social worker and disputes mediator, Sareen is also a prolific author and much sought after lecturer.

Also active in numerous socio-political and cultural fields, Sareen was nominated for Politician of the Year in 2003, 2006 and 2007 by the National Association for Gays and Lesbians, a prestigious, respected and much loved lobby as well as a coveted political asset in liberal Denmark.

On Oct 3, 2011, he was appointed the first male minister for equality. Sareen is the first minister of Denmark with a non-European ethnic background.

Sareen is married to Anya Degn Sareen and the couple have three children.

(Alfred de Tavares can be contacted at alfredtavares@hotmail.com)

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First Published: Wed, February 05 2014. 17:04 IST
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