Barsha Gadi of Ajsu campaigns
in Ranchi earlier this week
Quick revision before an examination, rehearsal prior to a stage performance or net practice ahead of a final match always helps achieve the best results.
The mantra is no different for Jharkhand’s assortment of regional and national parties who firmly believe practice makes poll prospects perfect.
The Assembly elections in mind, parties are overtly or covertly guiding their mayoral candidates through the campaign trail. The reason simple and smart: any party that wins the coveted post will be able to prove its mettle during the House polls because the urban constituency of Ranchi covers most municipal areas.
Going the whole hog — and alone — is All Jharkhand Students’ Union or Ajsu. The party, which has already announced no pre-poll ties, is on a PR overdrive across the state.
Building its fortune with bricks of women empowerment, the party managed to draw more than 100,000 lakh female panchayat representatives on March 24.
It is also pitching Barsha Gadi as its mayoral candidate. Rubbing shoulders with strong contenders like incumbent mayor Rama Khalkho, BJP candidate Ajay Tirkey, JMM aspirant Antu Tirkey and XISS alumni Ratan Tirkey, the homemaker is being mentored by none other than Ajsu chief Sudesh Mahto.
Insiders said 30-something Gadi has been handpicked by Ajsu’s budhhijivi manch (intellectual wing). Reason: she’s a greenhorn whom voters will find promising. She can help the party realise its dream of a Ranchi stronghold if she can just fulfil a bunch of urgent civic needs like garbage clearance, road maintenance and streetlight installation.
While Ajsu’s mayoral hope is still learning to throw confident speeches at gatherings, party bosses are conspicuous by their presence and quickly pick up on her mistakes to turn around the situation.
No less supportive are BJP’s young cadres who can always be seen escorting Ajay Tirkey. Determined to grab the mayoral post, which will add to the hold of BJP in Ranchi, the party has provided Tirkey with an army of 500 youths to manage his civic poll campaign.
Sitting MLA C.P. Singh too has been seen appealing for him. “He (Ajay) is our candidate. We need to support him the same way we receive support from senior leaders during Assembly elections. He can do a fine job,” Singh said.
Conceding that all parties had an equal opportunity to rehearse before the Assembly went to polls, Singh added: “Hawa kya hai abhi toh maalum chalega (This is the time to feel the people’s pulse).”
While the Ajsu and BJP candidates are being generously supported by their parties, JMM strongman Shibu Soren’s poster boy Antu Tirkey is banking on party workers who are busy managing the vote bank for him.
The dogged efforts of the three parties are proof enough that the municipal elections mean a lot to them.
While the BJP wants a firmer grip on the city, Ajsu wants to stretch its belt starting from Hatia, where it already has its representation with Praveen Kumar Jaiswal as the MLA, to Ranchi.
The Congress, however, has not come to the front as expressively as the others. Apparently upset with the attitude and approach of senior leaders like Subodh Kant Sahay and Pradeep Balmuchu, Rama Khalkho, who recently joined the party, is handling her campaigns on her own.
A senior Congress leader admitted that the mayoral race had exposed chinks in the party. “For the civic polls, the party is anything but united. Sahay has fielded five candidates of his choice around Hinoo and Doranda for the posts of ward councillors. He has his own agenda,” he said.
At a time when the Congress needs to work hard to make its presence felt in the state, won’t this rift raise eyebrows? Does the party not need a rehearsal before Assembly polls?
“Mujhe nahi pata (I do not know),” Khalkho kept it brief and befuddling.