Supriya Shrinate, a prominent face on Indian news channels, shares her strategy for respectful and fact-based debates as she takes on opponents in the political arena Video Credit: Gulf News

“I will defeat you with facts,” the feisty Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate tells Gulf News when asked about her party’s social media strategy for the Lok Sabha polls next year.

As head of the Congress’ social media team, Supriya Shrinate has a huge task. Much of today’s political drama and narrative setting plays out in the online space, something India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has successfully leveraged since 2014.

Attacking BJP, Shrinate accuses the ruling party of resorting to lies and fake news.

“A lot of what they do is based on pure lies and half-truths...a lie will be short lived and will be called out…lying is not a virtue,” she tells us. “I am never going to resort to cheap thrills. I am never going to resort to slander, or spreading fake news-my opponents do a much better job of doing that,” Shrinate adds.

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As head of the Congress social media cell, Supriya Shrinate admits the online space is toxic for women and insists she wants to encourage healthy conversations.

“For women journalists, women politicians social media is an extremely unsafe and offensive place because the only thing you’re targeted for is your sex..everyone who trolls you is essentially sexually offensive.”

Unconventional entry into politics

The 45-year-old Shrinate had an unconventional entry into politics. For over 18 years, she was a successful business journalist, having worked with some of the biggest names in television including NDTV and ET Now, which is part of the Times Group. In 2019, she resigned as a top editor at ET Now to join the Congress and contested the Lok Sabha polls from UP’s Maharajganj constituency.

Her late father was a two time MP from here but Supriya Shrinate lost, badly, coming third. However, that has not dampened her enthusiasm for politics.

“For women journalists, women politicians social media is an extremely unsafe and offensive place because the only thing you’re targeted for is your sex...everyone who trolls you is essentially sexually offensive.”

- Supriya Shrinate

“I saw my father in his constituency but nothing prepares you for electoral politics till you really enter it and quite frankly being an English journalist and more so a business journalist, you see a very small side of the country. I’ve been to the World Economic forum in Davos 12 meet the global elite, people who are making policies for the world and then when I went to contest the election, only then did I really understand the impact of the markets or what a budget means for people,” she says.

Journalism to politics

Moving from journalism to politics was also a smooth transition for her. “Both journalism and politics are full time jobs…it’s a 24x7 occupation,” she tells us.

“As journalists we see the naked’s the same in politics , you see the truth as is very fulfilling for me because the impact you can have as a politician is huge,” says Shrinate.

Today she is one of the most visible faces for the Congress on national TV and one of its most combative spokespersons. Having anchored TV debate shows for over 20 years, I can say Supriya Shrinate is always well prepared, armed with data and facts to unnerve the opponent.

“My strategy is to be respectful,” she says. “I am going to talk with facts and figures…I will ask pertinent questions…I am never going to get personal and say anything about your leadership until you don’t slander my leadership have to give it back…I will never start it but if I am the one who is going to end it, you will repent it”.

Fun fact: Supriya Shrinate unwinds by painting and reading. A far more mellow side to her tough, no nonsense personality.