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AAP’s daughter of the soil

Ranchi, March 20: Love her, or hate her, but you can’t ignore her.

Call her a rabble-rouser against industry or the voice of conscience for oppressed tribals who never get the fruits of the mainstream, Dayamani Barla (50) is now the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee for rebel-hit Khunti, an ST reserved Lok Sabha seat.

Dayamani is one of the seven faces fielded by the AAP in Jharkhand.

Other contestants include sitting BJP MP and former deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Karia Munda, Ajsu’s Niel Tirkey, Kolebira MLA and Jharkhand Party chief Anosh Ekka (former minister under Madhu Koda who served jail and is out on bail), Congressman Kalicharan Munda and JVM’s Basant Longa.

Dayamani isn’t fazed as she is used to taking up battles against big boys and winning. Her protests forced ArcelorMittal to shift its venue from Torpa-Kamdara (along Khunti and Gumla) and the state to change its plan of building a IIM-R campus in Nagri.

A postgraduate in commerce, one would expect Dayamani to be on the side of business. She defends her stand. “My only argument was that both sites were planned on agricultural land where people farm to eat and sell.”

“I have my own set of values I can’t compromise on. Issues concerning the poor such as jal, jungal and jamin (water, forest and land), environment protection, fight against irregularities in MGNREGS, promotion of farming would be my poll plank,” she said. “If not the AAP ticket, I would have fought polls this time as an Independent.”

Two things stand out about the lady.

One, whether one agrees with Dayamani or not, it is clear she is talking about issues and not vote banks.

Two, she is the rare woman running for a public office without the towering shadow of a man. Like Bihar, Jharkhand has few women politicians, most are wives and widows of powerful men — Rupi and Sita Soren, Savita Mahto and earlier Suman Mahto.

Dayamani is self-made. Husband Nelson, who runs with her a small eatery on Club Road, keeps a low profile.

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