For a long time since she returned from Germany in early 1990s, Sujata played the First Daughter of the Koirala clan, which continues to dominate the Nepali politics. The successful 1990 democratic movement and consequent election of her father as the first prime minister of democratic Nepal was a turning point in her life. That brought her back from Germany, where she was staying with her German husband, Norbert Jost.

Almost 18 years down the lane, Sujata is one of the key figures in the political arena. And she knows that the politics is a game of endless possibilities, and therefore not easy. As Minister for Foreign Affairs in the current coalition government, Sujata, no stranger to controversy, is once again grabbing the headlines.

But try pinning it all on her. She thinks the past 18 years have been the most difficult.  And she’s getting used to the game now. “The controversies and criticisms do not disturb me much these days,” she says. “I am dragged into controversies simply because I am more active.”

She has always known that politics is a rough-and-tumble affair: her family has seen it all. So why did she choose the path?

“The fact that my family members, including my father, continued to fight for democracy despite hardships, inspired me to join the fight,” she says.

She began as a fighter. As an energetic lady in the Koirala family, she resolved at a very young age to fight against the forces that troubled her family. “So in a way, I was fighting for myself and for democracy,” she says. She says she has won part of the battle.

She has, however, some serious reservations about how the media has been reading and dealing her as a woman and her political struggle.

Referring to the hullabaloo over her not joining the PM on his India visit, she says, “The media made a mountain of a molehill. I was sick and therefore I cancelled the visit. What’s the big deal?”

And no, she will not concede either that she’s at least partly to blame. She says that as a minister leading the second-largest party in the coalition, her party (she) deserves the deputy prime ministership--her wrangling for that post has been widely rumored to be the reason led to her backing out from the India visit. “Even my father (Girijababu) has realized that we deserve the post.”

It’s not just current rewards she has got her eyes trained on. Sujata is hopeful that she will one day lead the youth within the party, in particular, and across the country in general.

But she is apprehensive of the gradual erosion of presidential power in her party, and she has advocated for the party’s retaining the current president-centric organogram. But the party is also almost a Koirala-fiefdom, and thus that sense of entitlement to the party that her comments sometimes betray.

Some of her colleagues and seniors think that familial link is what the problem in the party is all about. They say that she wouldn’t be where she is if it weren’t for her father.

They’ve got reasons to think that way. Sujata’s ascent within the party hierarchy, in the last 18 years, has been nothing short of meteoric. In her race to the top, she has left in the dust many of her colleagues, even many seniors.

That self-confidence, that sense of entitlement, that belief that Sujata has in her destiny all mean that, headline-grabbing controversy or not, Sujata will not go away quietly. Her opponents know that they’ve got on their hands a battle with a scrapper. (November 2009)

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