Niroop Mahanty and wife Rupa head for Beldih Church on Sunday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
If there’s ever a poll on the best quip from the spouse of an MP nominee this Lok Sabha elections, the elegant Rupa Mahanty may win hands down.
To counter NaMo, she has coined NiMa, referring to husband Niroop Mahanty, JMM nominee for Jamshedpur seat.
Around 9.45am on Palm Sunday, April 13, Niroop and Rupa glided out of their posh Circuit House Area address in a red Honda Civic. Campaigning in the rural hinterland the whole week, the couple thought of spending Sunday morning in an urban pocket near Beldih Church.
The church and adjoining school fall under the Jamshedpur West Assembly segment.
Niroop in black trousers and a light cotton shirt and Rupa in a cheerful salwar-kameez ensemble looked striking as they exchanged pleasantries with the Christian community.
Niroop reminded his aide not to distribute poll leaflets inside church campus lest it violated the model code of conduct.
Niroop also spoke to Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) secretary Anand Sahu, charting out plans to educate homeless children living on Tatanagar platforms. “We tied up with the YMCA to do something for children hooked on drugs,” Niroop said.
A former Tata Steel vice-president, Niroop, along with his wife, have been running the Kudy Mahanty Children’s Opportunities (KMCO), an NGO named after their late daughter. Especially active in Patamda block, the NGO has made provisions for drinking water, including tube wells and wells, and invested in rooms for a state-run school. A project close to their heart, the Mahantys don’t tom-tom what they do.
Near Beldih Church, however, the crowd seemed to know about their good work. “Niroopji naam ke mohtaj nahin hain. Unhone gaon aur shahar mein kaam kiya hai wo sab jante hain. Acche vyakti hain (Niroop doesn’t need an introduction. People in villages and city know the kind of work he does. He’s a good man),” P.K. Das, Beldih Church secretary, said.
It was evident that the Mahantys were enjoying the Sunday interaction. “Campaigning is hectic but keeps me energetic,” he smiled when asked what keeps him looking fresh.
In rural Assembly segments, Niroop sticks to the party itinerary. “We are getting an abundance of good wishes from people. Feels nice. I’m a doer and believe in delivery, not promises. I don’t reach people with tall promises,” Niroop said.
Asked about his poll prospects — it’s a three-cornered fight with JVM’s sitting MP Ajoy Kumar, BJP’s nominee Bidyut Baran Mahto and Niroop — wife Rupa butts in.
“It may be NaMo in India but it is NiMa in Jamshedpur,” she says, upping the poll’s WQ (wit quotient) by many notches.
Niroop lets her have the last word. He smiles. The gracious couple leaves the area shortly afterwards. But it is a long day ahead for Niroop. He heads to Hotel Ramada in Bistupur, chalking out poll details with JMM strategists. “My party general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya and political adviser to chief minister Himanshu Choudhary and I are rolling up our sleeves to work out strategies. It’s a good team,” the affable former corporate honcho smiled.
l Jamshedpur votes on April 17