Rebel leader seeks road to Assembly

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  • Published 15.12.09

Simaria (Chatra), Dec. 14: His name once spelt terror in Chhotanagpur commissionerate, but today, Kuldeep Ganjhu, a former CPI(Maoist) zonal commander, is on far friendlier terms with the people of Simaria. Contesting on an Ajsu ticket from Simaria Assembly constituency, Ganjhu has made it his mission to win a berth in the House.

Ganjhu has reasons to be confident. He is credited with building roads and a dam in Hazaribagh and Chatra districts. While serving time in jail for his rebel activities, this former Maoist completed his matriculation, and is set to appear for his Intermediate exams next year.

As Ganjhu stepped out of his SUV in Belkhuri village of Itkhori, an elderly woman greeted him. “I have heard about you but I am seeing you for the first time,” she told a smiling Ganjhu, who promptly touched her feet. “Maine party mei rah kar bhi kam kiya tha aur ab political party se aap ki sewa karoonga (when I was in the rebel outfit I served you and I will do the same in politics too),” he assured her.

Ganjhu knows the future lies with the youth and is focusing on relating to them. “Aap ki berozgari sabse badi samasya hai aur main is par kam karunga. Aap pareshan mat ho, main aapke saath hoon aur rahunga. Par iske liye aapko mera haath majboot karna hoga (unemployment is the biggest issue but I am with you. But I need your support to sort out these issues),” he said.

Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of his roadshow, Ganjhu said he joined the rebel outfit in 1990 to rid his village, Hande, of the exploitation by money lenders and zamindars. He said at the time of his arrest in 2004 from the forests of Nawadih, he was accused in 30 cases as zonal commander of the area.

Speaking about his achievements, Ganjhu said as a Maoist zonal commander, he had constructed roads in Simaria but his popularity soared after the construction of a dam at a cost of Rs 15 lakh in January 2004. “I know the problems of villagers. The others in the fray are opportunists,” he said. “I need no introduction in this area. Everyone knows me.”

According to him, the Maoist poll boycott call is wrong as the rebels are not in a position to sort out all problems of the people and elections are the only solution. He also did not appear unduly worried about the rebel threat of teaching a lesson to former commanders who are contesting the polls. “I have the support of the people and don’t care about anything else,” he said. Ganjhu contested the last Assembly elections as an Independent and raked in only 2,500 votes.

“He was telling us about his work as a Maoist commander and promised to take up development works once he wins from here. But I will vote only after weighing the pros and cons of voting for a rebel,” said a villager. “We have given so many people a chance, so why not someone who revolted against the system to bring justice for the downtrodden?” said another.

But many saw Ganjhu only as a dreaded Maoist and shied away from the idea of having him as their representative.

On Saturday, Ganjhu had to be provided police escort after intelligence reports suggested that two sharp shooters of the dreaded Kundan Pahan squad was looking for him.