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No thoughts yet about being Louisiana's first lady: Supriya Jindal

By Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, LA
Last updated on: November 16, 2003 12:19 IST
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Supriya Jolly Jindal (31), wife of Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana, Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal has not yet given a thought to the prospect of becoming Louisiana's first lady.

In the past few weeks, she has been getting a lot of attention in local newspapers with Sunday's Advocate running a lengthy piece on her side by side with one of Jindal's Democratic rival Kathleen Blanco's husband.

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Unlike her husband who was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Supriya was born in India when her parents Jatinder and Shakun Jolly, who were living in the US, had gone back for a visit. She was raised in Baton Rouge.

In an exclusive interview with, she said, "I am just taking one day at a time."

A alumna of Tulane University, who majored in chemistry and also picked up an MBA, she now works as a market research associate for Albermale Corporation - an old paper manufacturing company that acquired Ethyl Corporation in 1962 - on the 10th floor of the Bank One Tower in Baton Rouge.

Besides helping her husband in his political campaign, she is also working on her doctorate at the Louisiana State University.

She finds all of the attention being paid to her "a little bit overwhelming. I am not used to it. The attention needs to stay on Bobby."

On being on the stump with Bobby, she said, "I believe is important. I am doing what I can to help out."

She acknowledged with her signature smile, which has been described as a winner by several political pundits, "It's really exciting going across the state and seeing the amount of support Bobby's got. The enthusiasm from all the volunteers, the supporters out there. It really gets your adrenalin going. It just keeps you going. It just is a whole lot of fun."

Before the 40-hour yatra, "I was mostly doing nights and weekends. But now in this last stretch, I am out there the whole time."

Supriya also converted to Roman Catholicism like her husband and has a covenant marriage. At present, she is pregnant with their second child.

During the final debate in a New Orleans television studio, Bobby had said, "Certainly, getting married to my beautiful wife -- and (his rival) Kathleen is right, I married better than I deserve. She's right to compliment me on my family because I don't deserve that…"

The Jindals met in high school -- Baton Rouge Magnet High -- but never dated. Both have admitted that he had asked for a date but Supriya turned him down because her family was moving to New Orleans, about 75 miles south of Baton Rouge.

After moving to New Orleans, she graduated from Grace King High School in 1989 with an above 4.0 GPA (grade point average) because of the advanced courses she took.

At Grace King, her classmates have described her as being 'the backbone' – a scrupulously behind-the-scenes worker of the student council and several other organisations.

Noted for being an extremely methodical and organised person who never got frazzled, in 1988, she was the spearhead of a project that had kindergartners, who would be seniors at the school in 2000, plant trees and bury time capsules to be dug up with the advent of the new millennium.

After high school, she had a pick of scholarship offers from some of the top colleges from across the country, but chose to stay in Louisiana to attend Tulane.

At Tulane, she was president of the Chemical Engineering Honor Society, served in the student senate and was a summer intern in then US congressman Robert Livingston's Washington office.

She was also an active member of the Louisiana Youth Legislature and worked in the 1988 Republican National Convention in 1988 held in New Orleans.

Fate brought the Jindals together again when Bobby, in the mid-1990s, was appointed the head of the state's Department of Health and Hospitals. On day, when his date cancelled out on a New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball, he called Supriya, whose number he still had in his phone book.

Not only did she pick up the phone but also agreed to be his date, and in less than a year his wife.

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Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, LA