The third phase polls in Bihar has two women in the fray — Congress’s Ranjita Ranjan from Supaul and BJP’s Putul Kumari in Banka — totally dissimilar to each other.
While Putul, a widow of former minister of state for external affairs Digvijay Singh, is a docile woman still drawing her strength from the legacy of her redoubtable husband who had made Banka his pocket-borough defying chief minister Nitish Kumar, Ranjita is the woman of her own despite being the wife of “don”, Pappu Yadav.
Ranjita drew the attention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when she defended the UPA-I in the Lok Sabha in the wake of the Left withdrawing support to it on the nuclear deal issue. Ranjita, then an LJP MP from Saharsa (no more a Lok Sabha seat now) turned Congress’s favourite, which later inducted her into the party.
A former amateur badminton player, Ranjita is the daughter of a Sikh granthi (the one who sings Guruvani as a religious chore) belonging to Patna Sahib gurdwara. It is not known how the smart and athletic daughter of a devout father fell for the rustic Pappu Yadav. Ranjita was hardly known to politics till she tied the knot in the early ’90s.
Today, however, she is a leader of repute in the Kosi region. No woman politico can match her in terms of popularity, clout and acceptance in the Kosi belt. And if the Congress finds the situation in its favour in Supaul, it is more because of Ranjita than her husband Pappu or anyone else.
Meena Kumari, a dhaba operator (woman dhaba operators are rare in the rough and rugged Kosi region) at Narayanput on the Supaul-Darbhanga highway in the Supaul Lok Sabha constituency, drew a parallel between Ranjita and Mandodari — a devout and pious wife of demon king Ravana.
“Ranjita is like Mandodari. She is pious and pure despite having a husband like Pappu. The way Mandodari was despite being the wife of Ravana,” Meena (25) said.
Her husband Bablu Kumar Mehta recalled how Ranjita came to the rescue of the people when the Kosi floods had devastated the region in 2008. “Ranjita has become an idol for women in the constituency,” Mehta said.
In a way, Ranjita is an antithesis of Pappu, creating a favourable situation on her own.
On the other hand, Putul is entirely dependent on her husband’s goodwill and the “Narendra Modi wave” in Banka.
Banka and Supaul vote today