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Veteran son of the soil

- MASS APPEAL

JVM’s MP hopeful for Dhanbad Samresh Singh, 74, five-time Bokaro MLA, four-decade-old labour leader and political veteran, has hopped parties — BJP to JMM to RJD to BSP and even formed his own, the short-lived Jharkhand Vananchal Congress.

Known for his temper, he says in 1976 he tugged at the dhoti of late Union minister for steel Biju Patnaik for “conspiring against Bokaro Steel Limited” to hijack it to Odisha. While in the BJP, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee denied him an Assembly ticket to Bokaro, Samresh stood as an Independent and won.

Bokaro MLA Samresh needs no introduction. His presence may be crude, he may speak too loudly and too much, but he is right at hand. Not yet an MP, but he’s hoping 2014 is his year.

On Sunday, up by 5am at his Sector IV home, he downs two cups of tea and rushes to Duggal and Mansha Singh gates of Bokaro Steel Limited — entry points — to meet morning shift workers. “Your dada needs your support,” he says. Backslaps and smiles later, he’s back home for a bath and packs his tiffin box with aloo paratha before heading for Sector I Ram temple for puja. Then, it’s time for campaigns at Magandih, Ghatiyali, Ranipokhar, Jala and Mahuar.

His refrain: “I am the only one who will stand by you. Others are monsoon frogs (who show their faces only for polls). Don’t divide your votes.”

“Everyone claims to be the son of the soil, but I am,” he said.

On sitting MP P.N. Singh, Samresh said: “He did no work in five years but thinks the Modi wave will save him.”

On his Dhanbad agenda, he is clear: “Model constituency, better roads and drainage, pollution-free townships, IIT status for ISM, more industries for jobs and displaced getting their due.

On Monday, his daughter-in-law Shweta joins him on his campaign trail in Chandankyari and other areas. He reaches Dhanbad in the afternoon for mass contact events in Wasseypur, Nutandih an Dhaiya.