April 19, 2024

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'Baramati Is Me, I Am Baramati': Supriya Sule Weeks Ahead Of Poll Fight

Supriya Sule will be contesting from Baramati, which she has represented since 2009

New Delhi:

Weeks ahead of her poll face-off with sister-in-law Sunetra Pawar, three-time Baramati MP Supriya Sule has said she is contesting a Lok Sabha election and not against any individual. Ms Sule, working president of the NCP faction led by her father and veteran politician Sharad Pawar, told NDTV in an exclusive interview that she is born and raised in Baramati and connected to its soil. “Baramati is me and I am Baramati,” she said.

The Baramati Lok Sabha seat near Pune has been a Pawar family stronghold for decades now. After Sharad Pawar, Ms Sule has represented Baramati for three terms in a row. But this election is different.

The NCP has been split due to the mutiny led by Sharad Pawar’s nephew and Ms Sule’s cousin Ajit Pawar. The junior Pawar, who has been cleared to use the party’s name and symbol, is now a part of the Maharashtra government with BJP and the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

Determined to make the most of the Pawar influence, the BJP has fielded Ajit Pawar’s wife and activist Sunetra against her sister-in-law Supriya Sule.

To a question on her face-off with her sister-in-law, Ms Sule replied, “I am fighting a Lok Sabha (election), I am not finding anyone individually. I have good relationships across party lines in Delhi and across India because I believe in a vibrant democracy. We have to make sure that we are heard and we must hear others as well. In a vibrant democracy, it’s about an ideological fight and a policy fight, not a personal fight.”

She also hit out at Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil for turning the poll contest into a “vindictive fight”. “Mr Patil came to Baramati last week and said this battle is only about finishing Sharad Pawar. These are not my words. There are his words. Rather than making it about policy, development or the progress of this state and the nation, people like him have made it a personal election.” she said.

Asked about her connection with Baramati, a seat she has represented since 2009, Ms Sule said, “We are committed to Baramati because Baramati is me and I am Baramati. I am born and raised here. Everything that I am today or the family is today is because of Baramati. We belong to the soil.”

A familiar sight in Ms Sule’s earlier poll campaigns in Baramati was Ajit Pawar by her side. Asked how she is navigating her campaign this time, she replied, “Time is the biggest healer. If somebody moves away… I value relationships and people, of course the personal pain will always remain. But I am here to serve the people, it’s not about my family.”

Asked why she thinks the 2024 election is a battle of ideologies, she said, “I believe in democracy. If I like to be heard, I need to have the capacity to hear, too. I have a problem with this authoritarian (rule). It’s an unsaid emergency.”

She also pointed to agrarian issues and the state of the rural economy. “This is not my data, this is government’s data. Also, electoral bonds. We are deeply pained by what is happening. The way parties are broken, families are broken… this is very alarming,” she said. Ms Sule reiterated her “ICE” slogan – she has alleged that leaders are going to the BJP not because they like its ideology but because of “ICE – Income Tax, CBI and ED”.

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