Sushma Andhare is known for her fiery oratory and is counted among the best public speakers in Marathi. The spokesperson for the Shiv Sena (the Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction, Andhare’s public presence is electric. In the years since 2019, when she was hurled into prominence after Uddhav Thackeray became the chief minister, Andhare’s fan following has increased manifold and the fan base is predominantly women.
She is a lawyer-politician, lecturer and writer. Born in Padoli in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, this 47-year-old Dalit leader is a practicing Buddhist. Armed with a doctorate and a Masters in Political Science, Andhare is well-known in the Dalit/Ambedkarite movement as well as among the tribal communities. She has been actively involved in the tribal rights movement. She fought long and hard against the caste system and to find acceptability in the mainstream.
After she completed her tenth grade exams, her family opposed further education. Her financial condition had weakened and there seemed to be no way that she could pursue higher education. She started giving speeches on order for a price. Since childhood, her oratory skills have been appreciated by all, charting a course for her future emergence as a leader of fiery speeches. Her oratory skills funded her higher education.
Andhare has been attacked several times. She has been pelted with stones and once even had a sword put to her neck by a Bajrang Dal activist in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. As a Dalit, she has had to fight battles for her right to live. She has written an anthology of poetry titled Shahpit Painjan, a thought-provoking collection on the lives of women from the marginalised Kolhati community. Andhare has started the Sammyak Counselling Centre, which provides a plethora of services for underprivileged communities.