Lady with election victory key - Mum on extremism, this Independent candidate pledges the moon

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By SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA
  • Published 3.02.08
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Simaria (Chatra), Feb. 3: Her slogan to win votes is “churi (bangle) nahi to muri (head) (press the button on the bangle else lose your life).” Her dream is to facilitate the NTPC power plant at Tandwa. She promises a developed village, but eliminating extremism is not on her agenda in a constituency where people go behind the door at 6pm.

Meet 26-year-old Anjali Bhokta. She might not win the Simaria bypoll, but she could play a decisive role in deciding the fate of other candidates.

All parties, except the CPI and the JVM, wanted her to hold the forte. The JVM was said to be making all efforts to persuade her to withdraw in support of its nominee, Jai Prakash Bhokta.

Anjali quit her job of para-teacher in a government-run primary school to contest the election. Her husband, Tulsi Kumar Bhokta, was behind the bar after getting booked for extremism. Tulsi’s alleged affiliation to Tritiya Prashtuti Committee (TPC), a breakaway Naxalite group, made her a nominee to watch even as she vehemently claimed her husband to be innocent.

“Police implicated him in false cases,” the mother of a child asserted.

“My victory is certain and it has upset the political parties. So, they are spreading all kinds of rumours,” Anjali, with a twinkle in her eyes, said.

The TPC has given a call to cast vote without any fear. The banned outfit, which has a stronghold in the region, held a news conference yesterday to send across its message.

Sagar, a TPC spokesman, charged the CPI (Maoist) with trying to hinder the electoral process by terrorising voters to cast their votes in favour of the candidates of their choice.

Kuldeep Ganjhu, said to be a zonal commander of CPI (Maoist) and lodged in Chatra jail, is in the fray, too.

The election offices of both Anjali and Ganjhu, set up side by side at Simaria, are manned by youths of the area.

Darshan Ganjhu, Anjali’s brother, accompanies her on her campaign trail. She visited 17-18 villages everyday during electioneering.

She counts Pathalgada, Labalong, Simaria and Tandwa, the den of Naxalites, as her stronghold. “I have not been able to visit Itkhori due to paucity of time,” she said. Itkhori has mostly upper caste population.

Anjali, in fact, had been an active member of the BJP and even tried to get the ticket from Babulal Marandi. Failing to woo either, she joined the poll battle as an Independent candidate. Donations were her source of campaigning, she claimed.

Anjali has grievances against the police. “Though they have spared me, they have apprehended several of my supporters,” she alleged.

But that has not de-motivated the spirited woman. “I will try to ensure that the NTPC plant begins power production,” she promised. After her lieutenants prodded, she added, the development of village would also be on her agenda.

What about extremism? “The situation is not as fearful as being painted by the police,” supplements Darshan, her brother. “People go off the road by 6pm as the police have intensified the checking of vehicles,” he reasoned.

“We will persuade the rebels join the mainstream,” Anjali added.

Ironically, the voting percentage tomorrow could be a barometer of the influence of both the CPI (Maoists) and the TPC, engaged in bloody clashes for quite some time. Her vote share could be spoiler for both the CPI as well as the JVM. No wonder, both the BJP and the Congress wanted her to be in fight.

Tight security

Simaria today virtually turned into a fort with security forces manning its every inch. Personnel of 25 companies of paramilitary forces have been pressed into service to foil any evil design of Maoists, who have issued a diktat to boycott the bypoll.