Jayant Sinha flashes victory in Hazaribagh on Friday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Far removed from the air-conditioned world of global finance that he was a part of in the US, if Jayant Sinha’s election debut seems like a dream, it is because everything worked for him till the end.
Fifty-year-old Jayant, soft-spoken son of former external affairs minister and BJP sitting MP from Hazaribagh Yashwant Sinha, has won from Hazaribagh by a record margin of 1,59,128 votes, leaving a once-confident Congress challenger Saurabh Narain Singh, MLA from Hazaribagh Sadar and royal scion, stumped at a distant second.
In 2009, his father defeated Singh by 40,164 votes, a modest enough margin. In 2004, Sinha Senior had suffered the worst drubbing of his political career, losing to CPI’s Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Mehta by 1,06,000 votes. Mehta held Hazaribagh’s record for winning by the biggest margin till Jayant broke it today.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Jayant gave credit to the Modi wave — “it swept aside caste and community politics in favour of development” — and his father’s efforts for his maiden win.
“I want to tell the people of Hazaribagh that I am always there to work for their prosperity. I have announced a six-point development plan on basics such as healthcare, roads and drinking water. My first priority is setting up an advanced hospital here,” he said.
It is a remarkable turnaround in two months. When Sinha decided to field Jayant, he faced flak from within his party.
In March, Jayant, who has degrees from IIT-Delhi, University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, was seen as the privileged outsider, the hi-flying corporate executive with no relation to Hazaribagh’s small town reality of bad roads, healthcare scams and almost no job opportunities for youths.
In his first public appearance after getting his ticket a day before Holi, as he walked towards a dais at a tourist complex ground in Hazaribagh, his nervousness was visible. Local BJP workers were still grumbling about his “foreign degrees”, “outsider status” and how Sinha Senior’s decision to field his son might cost them a strong bastion.
Few knew that Jayant was one of Narendra Modi’s backroom boys. Or that he had been tracking his father’s constituency for a long time. But the management graduate from Harvard showed his hard-selling acumen.
Coining the “ek vote teen fayde” punch line, he said: “Vote for me to get an educated person as an MP, get my father as a guardian and elect Modiji as the Prime Minister of the country.”
It struck a chord among both traditional and new voters.
Also, Sinha Senior knew the Modi wave was becoming a tsunami. Instead of holding on to his seat, the 76-year-old gambled on his hunch that this was the best time to induct his son into political hurly-burly and slip into the role of senior statesman.
Father and son tirelessly worked on their election strategy at their official residence Rishab Vatica in Demotand, some 6km from the town, along with handpicked party workers.
Sinha Senior toured all five Assembly segments — Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Barhi, Barkagaon and Mandu — meeting masses and talking to booth committee members. Jayant kept reminding people about “ek vote teen fayde”.
“I am happy people voted for Jayant,” Sinha Senior said. “The Modi wave brought big success for party,” he added. On his own role, he said it was for the “party and Modiji” to decide.