A young Indian-American activist-academic is poised to become the first recognized socialist to be elected to a public office in the United States, where the term socialism and socialist are treated with deep suspicion and disdain. Kshama Sawant, a Pune-born leftist who studied engineering in Mumbai and economics in the US is leading her Democratic Party rival Richard Conlin by a narrow margin of about 400 votes for a seat in the Seattle City Council. As of this writing, the official result will be known only end-November when all the votes are counted. Sawant, who has been an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, is a candidate of the Socialist Alternative in a city that is renowned for its progressive politics. ''It was evident that people yearned for a progressive voice,'' Sawant said.