The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 26 , 2014
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Mayoral dreams intact

- Cash muddle accused Khalkho campaigns for Sahay

In this election season, it’s hard to keep political ambition in check.

So, one should not be surprised if former Ranchi mayor Rama Khalkho, the prime accused in the civic polls cash muddle who came out of jail only in November last year, chooses to contest the countermanded mayoral polls that’s likely to be held in June.

Currently busy campaigning for mentor Subodh Kant Sahay, Congress candidate from Ranchi Lok Sabha constituency, Khalkho stressed that she wanted to prove that she didn’t need money to be re-elected as the mayor.

“I was a winning candidate in the mayoral election that was countermanded last year after horse-trading charges were brought against me. Now, the State Election Commission has started preparations to hold the election in the last week of June and I have decided to contest. I want to prove that I don’t require money to win,” Khalkho said while speaking to The Telegraph at her Hinoo residence.

Asked whether the chargesheet lodged against her in connection with the recovery of Rs 21.90 lakh from a Ranchi hotel a day before the mayoral polls last year would come in the way of her electoral ambitions, she said: “So far, no court of the country has convicted me. Rules don’t bar me from contesting elections.”

When pointed out that she was present at Hotel City Palace from where the money was seized on April 7, 2013, the former mayor reiterated her innocence.

“When the Congress decided to support me (in the countermanded mayoral polls), I was told to meet party workers a day before the election. Thus, I was called for a formal meeting at the hotel. I was unaware that any cash was kept there for my use. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t even know Niranjan Sharma (Congress leader) or his employee Sudhir Sahu,” she said.

Sharma and Sahu were caught with the cash bags.

Khalkho started her public life with Adivasi Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch, a social organisation led by Bandhu Tirkey, in 2001. She was a close aide of Tirkey, now the Trinamul Congress candidate from Ranchi seat.

But Tirkey distanced himself from her soon after her name cropped up in the cash scam and she surrendered before court after being on the run for two months.

“Tirkeyji had never wanted me to contest the mayoral election again. Last year, when I had asked him to support me, he mounted pressure on me to not contest. He wanted to field either a tribal IAS officer or a close relative of that person,” Khalkho said.

She didn’t hide her current proximity with the Congress or its leader Sahay.

“I am killing two birds with one stone. While campaigning for the Congress candidate, I am also campaigning for mayoral election. I see a bright future for myself in association with the Congress. The Congress has hardly any woman leader in Ranchi,” she said.

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