I could’ve been a cabinet minister in 2017, but I chose the harder path: Supriya Sule | Mumbai News – Times of India | IIT EXPERT



Baramati is set to witness one of most interesting poll battles in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, with Supriya Sule, the three-time MP from the constituency, pitted against her sister-in-law Sunetra Pawar, whose candidature is almost certain. Sule, the working president of the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar), said the BJP had to field ‘a Pawar against a Pawar’ to make a dent on veteran leader Sharad Pawar’s home turf.She recently visited TOI’s office in Pune where, during an interview, she said if her ideology was not strong, she would have been a cabinet minister in 2017 (that is, during Narendra Modi’s first term as PM). She did not go into details. She also said the possibility of reconciliation with cousin Ajit Pawar is unlikely. Excerpts:
Does the party’s split hurt emotionally and politically?
Supriya Sule: Time is the biggest healer. I cannot sit and cry over things that happened in the past. I have moved on. It is really overwhelming to see the support that my party and I get from the people. Politically, I feel a sense of responsibility. People listen with a lot of expectation, and I feel that I should not let them down. It is not a personal battle anymore. We are in politics to serve people.
Any possibility of reconciliation with Ajit Pawar?
Sule: When one makes a mistake once (Ajit Pawar joined the BJP and was sworn in deputy CM in 2019), it is understandable, but if he keeps making the same mistake again and again, it is not a mistake but a choice. There is no probability (of reconciliationwith Ajit Pawar). That ship has sailed. Now he (Ajit Pawar) has his organisation and we have ours. But, I bear no grudge. The others (from Ajit Pawar’s par ty members) are still in touch with me and I meet many of them socially. I even speak to Narendra Modiji and Amit Shahji when we meet in Parliament.
Any communication with Ajit Pawar after the split?
Sule: I am happy to talk to him. He has to respond, but he does not.
How has senior Pawar personally reacted to the split in the NCP and family?
Sule: He (Sharad Pawar) is the same person in his personal life as he is in public life. He does not dwell on the past. He accepts the present situation immediately and moves on. He is practical, which helps him in decision-making.
Was Sharad Pawar aware of Ajit Pawar’s oath ceremony in 2019?
Sule: We never denied that we were in a dialogue with the BJP, but a dialogue and an oath ceremony are two entirely different things. It does not give you any authority to close the deal. If we had supported the oath ceremony (in 2019), why would we have taken him (Ajit Pawar) back? What happened in 2023 would have happened in 2019. If Sharad Pawar had supported that oath ceremony, why did we fight back? Were negotiations on (with BJP)? Yes. Were we considering it? Yes. But, were we told about the oath? The answer is: ‘No.’ If we had supported it, we would have also gone with him.
Why did your party consider joining hands with the BJP in 2019?
Sule: Since the offer came to us from them, what was the harm in considering it? However, if my ideology was not strong, I would have been a cabinet minister in 2017. I had the option then, and even withAjit Pawar (in 2019), I had the option (to go with the BJP), but I have chosen the harder path.
The opposition admits that it failed to market its development works done before 2014. Your opinion…
Sule: Perhaps we are not communicating it well, but do not forget that many of our leaders are part of the present govt. Many were poached by this govt. They had slogans like ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ but now there are more Congress leaders in the BJP than in the Congress.
How would you rate the UPA and NDA regimes?
Sule: UPA-1 was the golden period in both decades. UPA-2 had the first two okay years, but then things went haywire after the CAG reports. Modiji spent five years taking forward the decisions of UPA govt in NDA1. However, in NDA-2, the BJP has gone completely astray. The BJP that I was fond of was an idealistic organisation with intellectual leaders, but BJP 2.0 is completely different.
Ajit Pawar will be on the other side in Baramati this time. Is it a challenge?
Sule: It is a challenge as well as an opportunity. I am confident of my performance. Even Parliamen t records state that I am a high performer, which the parliamentary affairs ministry also acknowledges. My development work is on my website and I am not facing any corruption charges. I tick every box for an MP.





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