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Riding a Merc dream in rebel-hit Giridih

Bokaro, April 15: If his film company made a movie on his life, it would be riveting.

A small-town boy makes it big as a lawyer in the power corridors of metros, starts a slew of businesses, snaps up luxury wheels like a Merc and real estate in London, lives the good life, but yet has warm ties with home.

Then, he comes home to fight an election against seasoned politicians, in the name of “giving back”.

Meet Ashutosh Verma (52), Trinamul Congress (TMC) nominee for Giridih seat, Jharkhand’s richest MP hopeful who wears many hats.

A fleet of cars flanks the Cooperative Colony residence in Bokaro where his father, retired Bokaro Steel Limited official S.S.P. Verma, stays.

A TMC nominee, Verma junior is camping here. Normally, he shuttles between London and Delhi due to his commitments as a Supreme Court lawyer, fledgling filmmaker with his London-based company, SpyderWaveFilms, a hotelier and realty dealer.

A political rookie, he comes across as extremely confident. “Mineral-rich Jharkhand remains poor because it is a poorly managed state. Huge central and other funds have lapsed. I blame the BJP, Congress, JMM and JVM. If elected, I will bring fundamental changes in my seat,” he said.

Initially keen on JVM, he switched over to the TMC seeing the party’s record and the “clean image” of its leader.

“Look at her (Bengal chief minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee). She’s self-made and not one person can say she is dishonest. Leaders of other parties working in Jharkhand are dishonest, corrupt and unreliable,” he said.

On the TMC, he said: “It’s a doer outfit with a work ethic.”

Right now, Verma is campaigning in Naxalite-hit areas. “There is no NaMo wave here. If I meet 100 people, only one man knows Modi,” he claimed.

On regional strongmen like Jagannath Mahto, the JMM candidate for the UPA, he says “His name is in an FIR for convening a jan adalat”.

“I was born and brought up here. I speak the language of the people. Creating jobs to weed out poverty is on top of my agenda if I am elected,” said the alumnus of St Xavier’s School in Bokaro and St Columba’s in Hazaribagh, who went to New Delhi to study law.

The TMC, a relatively new entity in Jharkhand, has fielded 10 Lok Sabha candidates this time in the tribal-dominated state, as diverse as globetrotting Verma in Giridih and former Maoist Kameshwar Baitha in Palamau.

Having a close-knit family helps. Verma frequently brainstorms with his father and elder brother Amitabh, an IAS officer, on ground realities in the state and constituency.

Wife Namrata, a homemaker, “is my rock”. Eldest son Abhinav (24) learns acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre And Film Institute in New York, while the younger one, Adwaita, 10, studies in the UK.

On why people should vote for him, Verma said: “I am neither casteist nor communal nor Maoist. I have made enough money so I won’t be dishonest. With better legal and managerial qualities, I can serve people better.”

l Giridih votes on April 17


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