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Experience wins in Adityapur

- Non-matric pips postgraduate to top post

Civic elections are not essentially fought on party lines, but the Adityapur Municipal Council polls turned into a discernible clash between the BJP and the JMM, with a non-matriculate candidate backed by the former drubbing a political science postgraduate field by the latter to stake claim to the hot seat.

Radha Sandil (45), the niece of former chief minister Arjun Munda, catapulted herself to the reserved post of chairman defeating her novice challenger Rashmi Murmu (35) by nearly 9,500 votes.

While Sandil polled 16,873 votes, Murmu’s kitty looked inadequate with 7,342. Ghaso Besra garnered 6,592 votes to finish third.

The urban local body caters to a population of more than 100,000 in Adityapur and Gamharia. Results for the posts of chairman, which was reserved for an ST woman candidate this time, and 32 ward councillors were declared on Thursday.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the BJP-backed candidate, however, strongly denied that her relation with Munda or her party connection had any special role to play in her victory.

“People voted for me based on my achievements as a councillor (of Ward No. 28) in the past five years (2008-2013), though I am grateful to my (BJP) supporters for helping me campaign,” Sandil, a resident of Road No. 8, said.

Wife of a former Tata Steel employee, she has already drawn up her priority list for Adityapur.

“I will take all ward councillors into confidence to discuss local issues. Since summer is here, making drinking water available to every neighbourhood tops my priority list. I will hold a meeting with drinking water and sanitation department’s Adityapur circle officials soon. Improving sewerage, particularly in the Housing Colony area, is also on agenda,” she said.

After the winner to the chairman’s post was announced around 2pm, Sandil’s supporters took out a big rally on Tata-Kandra Road led by BJP state secretary Shailendra Kumar and BJP Yuva Morcha’s (ST cell) Seraikela-Kharsawan district president Ganesh Mahali.

The mood, on the other hand, was sombre in the Murmu camp. A senior functionary of the NGO Kalamandir, the political greenhorn claimed that though she was “blessed” by senior JMM leaders, she did not receive active support from the party during campaigning, which possibly sealed her fate.

“Though Champai Soren (Seraikela MLA) and Vidyut Baran Mahto (Baharagora MLA) gave me their blessings, neither they nor anyone else openly supported me as BJP leaders did for Radha Sandil. However, this was my first foray into active politics and I will continue to work for the people,” she said.

In the Seraikela Notified Area Committee, incumbent chairman Arunima Singhdeo, the wife of royal scion Adityap Pratap Singhdeo, retained her post by polling 2,772 votes. Her nearest rival, Meenakshi Patnaik, garnered 2,504.