Poll Power Trips Geeta Koda means business
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- Published 28.11.14
|Jai Bharat Samanta Party nominee Geeta Koda and her supporters campaign at Badgaon in Jagannathpur constituency on Wednesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta|
Geeta Koda, sitting MLA of Jagannathpur and Jai Bharat Samanta Party candidate from the rural Jagannathpur (ST) Assembly constituency, wears her Mrs Koda tag in a no-nonsense manner.
Five years ago, in December, the homemaker stepped in hastily into the political arena after her husband, Jharkhand’s most controversial former chief minister Madhu Koda, was arrested in the infamous disproportionate assets case.
At 31, Geeta, now wedded to Koda for 10 years and having been an MLA for half that time, is confidently eyeing her re-election.
Asked if the charges against Koda — charges of money laundering and illegal investments against him and five close aides amount to Rs 3,500 crore — affect her, Geeta brushes them off. “People love me and Kodaji. They are not interested in the misdemeanours Kodaji may have committed. People hold my husband in very high esteem. His detractors may have been spreading canards. I am not concerned,” she told The Telegraph on Wednesday while on her campaign trail.
The Telegraph caught up with Geeta at Badgaon, an Odia-dominated village, some 30km from Jagannathpur.
Clad in a beige sari and full-sleeved maroon blouse, walking nimbly past cow dung on concrete roads, she addrssed villagers in fluent Odia with folded hands: “Mu jou kam karuchi sa kamon takey aadhar rakhi vote diyo (vote for me on the basis of my work).”
Geeta gets off to an early start, she said. “This morning, I went to Kalaiya, Joginanda, Kondasai and Sialjoda villages,” she said, stopping at Dipasai, a tola in Badgaon, amid shouts of “Geeta Koda zindabad, Madhu Koda zindabad.”
“I work hard and stay optimistic. I’ve tried to serve this constituency to the best of my ability and am looking forward to getting re-elected,” Geeta told The Telegraph.
“I want the medical college at Haat Gamharia to see the light of day. Its foundation stone was laid in 2008 when my husband was the chief minister and Jagannathpur MLA. I also want to complete unfinished projects related health, education and roads,” she said.
She added she had facilitated deep boring in Jamda and Noamundi and “forced” SAIL to open 105 job vacancies. “My work as an MLA will help me win,” Geeta, a self-professed workaholic who holds a jaw-dropping 50 small and big poll campaigns everyday, said.
In 2009, despite the shadow of her husband’s arrest, Geeta defeated BJP’s Sonaram Birua in Assembly elections by over 25,000 votes. This time, the Koda bahu is locked in a three-corned contest with BJP’s Mangal Singh Soren and JMM’s Mangal Singh Bobonga. All three are Ho Adivasis, the dominant community in this reserved constituency with 1,10,000 voters.
Her husband is contesting Majgaon, another ST reserved constituency. “We take the blessings from my in-laws (Rasika Koda and Kuni Kui) at our Patahatu home and leave together around 7am in separate SUVs. I head to Jagannathpur, Kodaji speeds off to Majgaon,” Geeta added.
A frugal eater — “do roti aur aloo bhujiya kafi hai” — she gets her energy from supporters.
She does what few dare to do in the state these days. “Yahan koi Modi lehar nahin hai. Dusre jagah hoga to mein nahin janti (In Jagannathpur, there’s no Modi wave, I don’t know what’s the case elsewhere),” she said.
Social worker Ashok Pradhan of Kondasai village, Jagannathpur block, said Geeta had emerged as a force in her own right. “She is a serious politician. I am not a supporter of any party but I like the way Geetaji works.”
On the allegations against the Kodas, resident Lobin Tudu was dismissive. “People here hardly understand them. People see the work in the constituency. Plus, Koda is a Ho in a Ho-dominated area.”
Neelamoni Biruily (65) said Geeta and Madhu Koda were “like gods”. “Dono pati-patni ne bahut kuch kiya hai. Madhu Koda ne yahan road banwaya hai. Congress ne unhe saazish kar jail bhijwaya tha (Both husband and wife have done a lot. Madhu Koda facilitated roads. The Congress conspired to send him to jail),” the elderly woman said.
Jagannathpur votes on December 2