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CHALLENGER

TT: What’s your biggest hurdle this time?

Tahal: I wasn’t an MP for the last 10 years, whereas my Congress rival has had functional offices in every corner. But, things are settling down. There is a NaMo wave and people have realised how their sitting MP cheated them

Who is your main rival?

Subodh Kant Sahay of Congress

But, SudeshMahto (Ajsu), Bandhu Tirkey (TMC) and AmitabhChoudhary (JVM)?

They are Congress’s dummy candidates intended to divide the BJP vote

How so?

In 2004, Bandhu Tirkeycontested (Independent) and divided the Sarna votes, which helped Sahay win. In 2009, Sahay lured some of my poll managers in Ichagarh. This time, he has roped in Sudesh to divide Kurmi-Mahto votes

You don’t seem confident.

I never said that. People living in Sudesh’s strongholds like Silli and Sonahatu are crying. They have realised their mistake

Are you getting full cooperation from your party?

BJP is a large family. Petty differences are natural. But, overall every party worker stands united. Had it not been so, the party would not have rejected Amitabh and granted me the Ranchi ticket. Both Modi and Rajnath have already campaigned for me

Your USP?

I am accessible and always ready to fight for commoners

You lost in 2009 as urban elites stayed indoors in a harsh summer

True, but that will not happen this time. Everyone will brave queues to exercise their franchise

Money and muscle power play a crucial role.

I am lagging behind my rivals on both these fronts. But, people will reject both money and muscle power. The country wants change

But, you are a man of means. You run a chain of educational institutions, own petrol pumps, LPG agencies,etc.

The people of Ranchi elected me in 1991, ’96, ’98 and ’99. I lost in 2004 and 2009 by narrow margins. Had I been a thief, they would never have expressed their faith in me. I have ensured maximum employment for locals.