Poster girl: Deepika Kumari with her proud father at her Ratu Chatti home on the outskirts of Ranchi
Archery world number two Deepika Kumari, appointed Jharkhand’s brand ambassador for Lok Sabha polls to push voting turnout, reached her humble Ratu Chatti home on Ranchi outskirts from Delhi on Tuesday, spent time indoors watching television and left for Jamshedpur on Thursday morning.
Ask her about her role as brand ambassador, she said: “I am not aware of these processes so can’t comment. Neither has any district official contacted me here, nor asked me to be part of any voter awareness campaign.”
Deepika’s smiling face is visible on some print ads and hoardings urging people to vote. Earlier, she shot for a video that streams on the website of Chief Electoral Officer, Jharkhand.
Will she be in Ranchi to vote on April 17?
“I want to and I just hope I get the time,” she said, adding she was not certain of her sporting itinerary right now.
Contacted on Thursday evening, Jharkhand chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria said they had utilised her according to their requirements.
“First, we weren’t aware about her presence as she didn’t inform us. Our main focus was to use her for ads to create awareness, which we did. Ads and posters are already coming in newspapers and in hoardings. Moreover, since she has her home here, she will naturally come and go. It isn’t our job to keep track,” he said.
Himani Pande, one of the two additional chief electoral officers — the other is K.K. Soan — claimed Deepika’s “busy schedule” did not allow them to utilise her as much as they would have “loved to”.
“When Deepika was in Delhi, she told us she had some archery events lined up and using her actively in campaign might mar her performance. We would have loved to use her for active campaigning but given her busy schedule, we couldn’t.”
Her parents Shiv Narayan and Geeta aren’t amused.
They feel polls are a way to enrich leaders and impoverish masses.
“Abhi tak sansad aur vidhayak jo yahan se bane hain unka itihaash nikal ke dekhe aapko malum chalega kitna kaam hua janata ke liye (Do a background check of MPs and MLAs from here and you will know what they have done for people),” said Shiv Narayan.
On sitting Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay, Shiv Narayan said his promises of past five years went unfulfilled.
“I still remember he promised youths jobs according to their eligibility (yogyata). Personally, he promised me he would do something to bail us out of poverty. But netas get rich, common people get poorer,” he said.
His views are scathing.
“Na sarkar, na sansad aaj tak naali nahin banwa saka iss area mein. Aap khud hi shaam mein yahan aake dekh lijiye pure mohalle mein kitni badboo aur machchar hote hain. (Neither state nor MP got this area a proper drainage system. Come anytime in the evening to feel the stench and mosquito bites).
Geeta said it was ironical their daughter was EC brand ambassador for Jharkhand. “Many state governments promised her land and cash, but no one did much,” she said.
“Our only solace is that after delays, the government handed us cash for a toilet. Construction work started three weeks back,” said Shiv Narayan.
Will they vote?
“Definitely,” said Geeta. “We will certainly vote as hope never dies,” said her husband.
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