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For Supriya Sule, politics is one more challenge

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Supriya Sule.
Supriya Sule.

Meena Menon

I will never claim anything in party; it will decide what I have to do, says Pawar's daughter

She has been involved in running schools for the last few years Will be happy to contest elections

MUMBAI: "I can't deny I am my father's daughter," says Supriya Sule, daughter of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who has recently been inducted into his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). "But I don't believe I will ever claim anything in the party," she said in an interview to The Hindu .

Authority sits lightly on the 37-year-old energetic and stylish managing trustee of the Pawar Public Charitable Trust. She has been involved in running schools for the last few years and is a firm believer in professionals being actively involved in public life.

So her recent decision to join the rather staid ranks of the NCP should come as no surprise. But it is a decision that has caused some flutters, not the least in the media. Ms. Supriya, however, dismissed talk of any pressure on her to join the party. "No one can tell me what to do. My father did not groom me for anything. I have taken all the major decisions all my life. We are a truly liberated family," she says.

The only child of Mr. Pawar, Ms. Supriya said she could not join the party earlier as she was living abroad for 10 years. When she came back five and a half years ago from Singapore, she started working with the Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan and is involved in its youth wing, self-help groups, apart from networking with about 700 organisations for rights of the handicapped. She also manages schools for adivasi girls and children of nomadic tribes, apart from a new ICSE school in Mumbai's suburb of Bhandup.

Ever since her decision to join the NCP, she has been flooded with questions on dynastic politics. Although she does not deny her connection to her father, she prefers to be known as a person of substance. She feels the party will decide what she has to do. Asked whether she would contest elections, Ms. Supriya said she was the kind of person who loves to take responsibility and she would be happy to contest.

The NCP already has a second rung of leadership which includes her cousin Ajit Pawar, Water Resources Minister in the ruling coalition in Maharashtra. She denied any rift with him and said, "I am looking to him for advice. He has 20 years of experience in politics." She says that the NCP has always worked for the underprivileged and her father has always believed that being in politics is 80 per cent public service and 20 per cent politicking.

"If you don't have any issues what's the point?" she asks.

She identifies with this issue-based approach in the party. "We have to merge these serious issues and give them a bigger platform. I feel that is my forte," she points out.

"I am the kind of person who has to work in an area which I am passionate about. I also feel every citizen is connected to political parties in some way and everyone has a political strain," she says, reflecting some of the wisdom that has made her father one of Maharashtra's most astute politicians.

Some time ago, Ms. Supriya's criticism of the way the State Government runs ashramshalas or boarding schools, mainly for adivasi children, made a lot of news.

Improving things

"The idea is to improve things. As non-Governmental organisations we are not there to challenge the Government. We can work together. Sometimes due to the way in which schools are run, the children suffer. Rather than sitting back and criticising, people should get up and do something about it," she feels.

For this graduate in microbiology who studied water pollution for a year at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked in a landscape company on hydro culture plants, politics is one more challenge. She already has her hands full travelling around to the schools she runs, tackling wide-ranging issues and networking, apart from caring for her two children.

Her husband Sadanand Sule runs a legal portal.


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