How Ajit Pawar’s revolt helped Supriya Sule emerge as key leader of NCP
Over the past three days as the Nationalist Congress Party faced the prospect of a revolt and a split, Member of Parliament Supriya Sule was a constant presence by the side of her father and the party patriarch Sharad Pawar.
Sule’s presence at every meeting was a sharp contrast to her usual role — a NCP MP who largely operates in Delhi. If the past three days are any indication Sule is now an important leader at the state level.
She was part of party’s strategy meetings. She reached out to leaders from other parties when needed. She made the rounds of hotels where NCP legislators were housed.
“She played a key role in the entire operation to prevent poaching of the legislators. She was keeping track of the developments and apprising her father. Wherever needed, she was giving her inputs,” said a senior NCP leader, who is part of core committee of the party and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It was her idea to divide the legislators into two groups as it becomes easier to manage them if the number is less. Following this, the NCP discreetly shifted as many as 12 legislators to Hotel Sofitel in Bandra Kurla Complex on Sunday night while the remaining 34 remained at Hotel Grand Hyatt in Santacruz,” said a NCP functionary familiar with the development who asked not to be named. “The last few days were difficult for all the MLAs, especially first timers. Supriya tai made efforts to keep the calm and assured us that everything would be fine,” said Aditi Tatkare, NCP MLA from Shrivardhan assembly constituency.
Sule was introduced to active politics in 2006 when she was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha in a byelection.
In 2009, she took over Baramati Lok Sabha constituency that was previously represented by her father. She is now three-term MP and has also formed Rashtravadi Yuvati Congress, a wing of young women, to connect with young people and built a network across the state. Despite speculation that she could be projected as Sharad Pawar’s political heir, Sule has often insisted that her role is in Delhi and that it is her cousin Ajit Pawar who looks after party matters in Maharashtra. There’s speculation that Ajit Pawar’s betrayal has only strengthened her status as the NCP’s next leader.
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