First family out of mayoral poll

OBC candidates eye Dhanbad top chair

By Praduman Choubey
  • Published 30.04.15

Call it a turn of fate or mere demographics, census numbers have pushed one of Coal Belt's most influential political families out of the upcoming battle for the post of Dhanbad mayor.

The mayor's post, voting for which will be held on May 26 along with 55 councillor chairs, has been reserved for OBC candidates.

Hence, incumbent mayor Indu Singh, who rode on huge support of mine labourers - thanks to her trade union leader husband Ramadhir Singh - to become the first elected civic boss of Dhanbad in 2010, is not eligible to join the fray this time.

The mayor was not available for her comments.

However, nephew Neeraj Singh, who was elected deputy mayor in the last polls, questioned the logic behind reserving the seat for OBC candidates when more than 60 per cent voters belonged to the general category. "It is like debarring 60 per cent people from participating in the elections," he said.

Neeraj added that he had not yet decided to support any candidate. "I am exploring possibilities to challenge the existing provisions for reserving seats in different elections - be it mayoral or panchayat polls - in the court of law."

The exit of Indu and her kin from the battlefield has thrown open a perceived window of opportunity for a host of candidates.

Savitri Devi, wife of Baghmara MLA Dhullu Mahto, has decided to take the plunge in active politics with the Dhanbad mayoral poll. With the tacit support from her husband's party, the BJP, Savitri hopes to seize the opportunity in the changed political and electoral scenario.

"The residents are deprived of basic facilities despite paying taxes. I will work to ensure good roads, clean drains, drinking water and sanitation," she said.

The Jharia royal family, which enjoys a strong clout in the area, has thrown its weight behind Ajsu district president Mantu Mahto, who seeks to put up a strong fight for the mayor's post.

At Jharia palace last week, royal bahu Madhvi Singh had announced her support for Mahto.

"We are concerned over the pathetic condition of civic amenities, like lack of sanitation, irregular water supply, bad roads and choked drains. We hope the new mayor and councillors will try to address these issues on a priority basis," said Madhavi, in the presence of senior Ajsu leader Ajay Narayan Lal, among others.

These apart, BJP state executive committee member Shekhar Agarwal, Marxist Coordination Committee leader and Ward No. 39 councillor (Jharia) Rustam Ansari, former Congress town president Ravindra Verma, Ward No. 36 councillor (Jharia) Krishna Agarwal have already decided to contest the mayoral election.

Lok Janshakti Party is also planning to support some candidates in the polls, but has not declared names yet.

Dhanbad Municipal Corporation will go to polls on May 26, along with 12 other urban local bodies.

More than 200 people are planning to contest 55 posts of ward councillors, out of which 26 are reserved for women. Around 7.99 lakh voters will cast their vote at 923 booths spread across 55 wards of five circles - Dhanbad, Jharia, Sindri, Katras and Chatatand.

Dhanbad deputy commissioner Kripanand Jha held a news meet on Wednesday to offer details of the election programme. "Additional security forces will be posted in sensitive and highly sensitive booths for peaceful polling," he said.