JMM’s Suman Mahto interacts with a Mango resident in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Behind every successful man of Parliament, there is a former woman of Parliament.
Or so may change the maxim if either JMM’s business-class catch Niroop Mahanty or BJP’s flash of hope Bidyut Baran Mahto manages to wrest the coveted Jamshedpur seat from sitting JVM MP Ajoy Kumar.
For, two fair and former MPs, who had earlier rued their respective party’s decisions to sideline women while nominating candidates for Lok Sabha 2014, have now taken centre stage to garner support for their gender rivals.
Suman Mahto, also widow of slain JMM parliamentarian Sunil Mahto, is wooing women in favour of Mahanty across the hot seat’s six Assembly segments of Jamshedpur East and West, Jugsalai, Potka, Baharagora and Ghatshila. Similarly, former BJP MP Abha Mahto is backing Bidyut Baran to the hilt, touring rural and urban pockets.
“It is my duty to garner votes for my party candidate. I am getting good response from both men and women voters, some of whom know me personally. I have been an MP and know how to approach people,” Suman minced no words to underscore her definite role if Mahanty pulls off a win.
Despite having been a political recluse for almost two years owing to personal reasons, she has managed to join the campaign bandwagon with renewed vigour. “I leave my Kadma home by 9am to tour the rural hinterland. I return home late in the evening,” the JMM leader, who went to Parliament from 2007 to 2009, said.
“Prachar karna mushkil jaroor hai, par main party ke liye kar rahin hun (Campaigning is a tough job, but I am doing it for my party),” Suman cleared the last inkling of doubt over her loyalty.
On how she woos voters, she conceded that she often harps on her late husband’s “good work”. “My husband died for Jharkhand. I seek votes in his name; sometimes, I ask people to support me and my cause,” she made it apparent that Mahanty was still not a familiar face with the electorate.
Abha, a two-time BJP parliamentarian (1998 and 1999-2004), is riding the NaMo wave and helping Bidyut hitch a turn too. “NaMo ka hawa aisa hai ki logon se kuch kehne ki jaroorat hi nahin padhti (The NaMo wave is such that I don’t need to tell people much. They just know it),” she claimed.
The wife of former JMM leader Shailendra Mahto added: “Pratyashi koi mudda nahin hai. Main Narendra Modi aur desh ke liye vote maang rahin hun. Mardon aur mahilaon ka samarthan mil raha hai (Candidate is not a factor. I am seeking votes for Narendra Modi and the country. Both men and women are being supportive).”
Like an obedient party member, Abha undertakes campaign trips that figure on the programme list of the BJP’s district unit. “Jahan party kehti hai wahi jaati hun. Mere saath mard aur mahila sab chalte hai (I go wherever my party wishes me to go. Men and women tag along),” she attempted a gender unifier.
And signed off with the reiteration: “Saare desh mein NaMo ka lehar hai. Hamare pratyashi ko bahut achcha samarthan mil raha hai (There is NaMo wave everywhere. Our candidate is getting good support).”
Will the fair campaigns add to party vote banks?