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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Spotlight on Naba Kumar Sarania: On mission for change, from Assam to Bihar

Sarania, who calls himself a social campaigner instead of a political campaigner, spoke to The Telegraph about his campaign, Bihar’s issues and future moves of his Gana Suraksha Party formed in 2019-20

Dev Raj Published 23.05.24, 07:45 AM
Naba Kumar Sarania (right) in Harnatand.

Naba Kumar Sarania (right) in Harnatand. Picture by Dev Raj 

Naba Kumar Sarania, 55, is a surprise candidate in Bihar. Twice an Independent MP (2014 and 2019) from Kokrajh­ar in Assam, the former ULFA commander is contesting from Valmiki Nagar after his nomination from his native seat was rejected.

Sarania, who calls himself a social campaigner instead of a political campaigner, spoke to Dev Raj about his campaign, Bihar’s issues and future moves of his Gana Suraksha Party formed in 2019-20.

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⦿ Why contest the polls from Valmiki Nagar?

I came here around a year ago to attend a function on Babasaheb Ambedkar. I decided to fight from here after my nomination in Kokrajhar was rejected as part of a conspiracy against me. Vested interests decided not to acknowledge my tribal status for the seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

⦿ But why this seat?

Valmiki Nagar is in Champaran (West Champaran), the land of Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi). He started his Satyagraha in India from here. It is a good place to herald a change. Besides, the place is very backward. I have never seen so many mud-and-thatch houses in any other constituency. The health and education facilities are poor. The farmers here are facing all sorts of problems.

⦿ Can you win?

I won as an Independent from Kokrajhar in 2014 and 2019 amid the Narendra Modi wave. Everybody voted for
me, including Hindus and Muslims. No BJP Prime Minister can defeat me. I will win from here.

⦿ Why will the people of Valmiki Nagar vote for you?

This place has a sizeable population of the Tharu tribe. There are around 3.5 lakh voters and they are rallying behind me. There are around 1.5 lakh Dalit voters, over 3 lakh Muslim voters and around 5 lakh extremely backward caste (EBC) voters. They all like me after learning about my work in Kokrajhar. I have always protected everybody, including the Scheduled Tribes, Dalits, the minorities and backward classes.

⦿ How will you give a fight to JDU’s Sunil Kumar & RJD’s Deepak Yadav?

It is the people who will give them a run for their money. Just wait and watch. The voters say ‘Sunil bolte nahin, Deepak milte nahin (Sunil doesn’t speak, Deepak doesn’t meet)’. Deepak has two minus points. He was previously with the BJP and is an outsider from Haryana. Sunil has also come from another place in Bihar to settle here.

⦿ But you are also an outsider here...

Why is such a question not put to Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi or Smriti Irani? They are also contesting from constituencies away from their native places. Actually, anybody from anywhere can contest the Lok Sabha elections.

⦿ What other issues have you witnessed in Bihar?

The infrastructure is poor. Just see the road that goes from Valmiki Nagar to Kushinagar (UP). It is in very poor shape. People say that an MLA was involved in its construction and did a bad job. Corruption is a big problem here.

⦿ What is the future plan of your party?

The Gana Suraksha Party is contesting 16 Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Kashmir. We will expand further.

⦿ Tell us about your ULFA days...

I left home in 1989 and was underground till 2010. Many intellectuals were associated with ULFA those days, but its rules did not allow participation in any democratic process. We came out in 2014 after peace talks with the Union government progressed. I also became associated with the Bodoland Movement in which thousands of people were killed in three decades. There was no justice for them. So, I decided to enter politics and contest polls for their sake. The ULFA expelled me because of it.

Valmiki Nagar votes on May 25

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