For over a decade, Supriya Sule has been known as the suave, urbane face of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Delhi. However, in the aftermath of the political tussle in Maharashtra, Sule has made her presence felt in state politics in a manner that she has not done before.
Barely three days after the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was sworn in, Sule made two specific governance-related requests to the new regime. In a letter to Thackeray, she urged him to revert to the earlier practice of recruitment in state departments through Public Service Commission (MPSC) instead of the 'Mahaportal', as followed by the previous BJP-led government. She claimed that many youths who aspired to get government jobs faced problems in the last five years.
"It would be better if recruitment is carried out as per the earlier laid down procedure (MPSC)," she urged.
She also suggested the creation of a separate department for the welfare of differently-abled people in the state in a separate letter. She said, "Due to a law enacted in 2016, 21 kinds of disabilities have been recognised. Therefore, the extent of work in this regard has increased."
Sule was also at the forefront of party affairs at the state-level even before it formed the government. She was part of key meetings before and after the election results.
A report in Hindustan Times quoted an NCP leader as saying that Sule played a key role in preventing the poaching of lawmakers, and that it was her idea to divide them into two groups so that they could be managed more easily.
When the BJP was attempting to garner support, some NCP MLAs were in Mumbai's Hotel Grand Hyatt, while others were in the city's Hotel Sofitel.
Going by Sule's recent statements and actions, it appears that events of the past couple of weeks were not an aberration, and that her role in the state's politics may be here to stay.
Recently, she met several MLAs, including former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sharad Pawar's grandnephew Rohit Pawar.
" Supriya Sule (@supriya_sule) November 27, 2019
Speculation about Sule taking upon herself a prominent role in Maharashtra politics is not new. Even in 2006, before she was elected to the Rajya Sabha, media reports said she may be projected as the next chief minister rather than Ajit Pawar. In recent months as well, there has been talk about the party patriarch favouring his daughter over nephew. According to News18, Ajit Pawar is said to have believed that Sharad put all his might into ensuring that Sule would win the Lok Sabha election from Baramati, but did not put nearly as much effort in supporting the candidature of Ajit's son Parth, who lost the election from Maval by over 2 lakh votes. Further, voices from other parties have also openly stated that Sule is the right person to take over the mantle of the NCP For instance, Congress leader Milind Deora tweeted recently
.@supriya_sule is the rightful heir to her father's great legacy. She is effective because she believes that social work & policy change are the paths to political empowerment. I share these values & admire her for staying the course https://t.co/TYHNtpJhxg " Milind Deora ¤®¤¿¤²¤¿¤¤¦ ¤¦¥¤µ¤°¤¾ (@milinddeora) November 29, 2019
Keeping these developments in mind, it is likely that Sule's interventions on the differently-abled and recruitment for government jobs are only the first of many more.