Seema Parihar is a woman of words—of too many words.
And, despite the poor show of film Wounded
in which she plays herself as a Chambal bandit, the 37-something Parihar appears to have learned the ropes rather well in terms of striking a rapport with the electorate.
While campaigning at Orai, the scorching morning sun holds hardly any significance to her. She walks briskly -- through the streets, dusty passages, dodging sleeping dogs and snoozing cats, and offers plenty of words to housewives rolling rotis
, women picking lice from their hair and groups of squatting, leisurely chatting men.
And the apparently poor response does not deter her. Some smile shyly in greeting. Others gaze blankly. She often holds the women's hands, and seeks blessings from every elder who is now a Chacha
Do you take precautions from the heat while taking a cycle ride to the nearest market? Are the hand pumps working? What were the children doing, studying or not? Like the gestures earlier, the words came in a rush, almost spontaneously.
At times, dusty mats are spread out in the courtyard, and few offer her tea. She hardly has time for these niceties but Parihar does not refuse.
She listens with rapt attention before unleashing volleys of suggestions on how to get things done at the government level. "The women should unite and raise their voice against any form of oppression," she says.
But, she is not tempted to shoot off the swear words she mouths in the film to correct the system which she believes needs an overhaul. As of now, Seema Parihar is standing chummy-chummy with the neighbourhood women.
Fielded by Indian Justice Party, Seema Parihar is contesting from Mirzapur —a parliamentary constituency once manned by Phoolan Devi. Although, she admits having picked the seat because it once belonged to Phoolan, Seema does not really follow Phoolan's aggressive campaigning style.
Hers is rather a subdued "jan sampark abhiyaan"
, which has failed to evoke the desired results. And, as she tries piecing together her campaign, there is plenty of skepticism around.
"She is no Phoolan. She does not have the charisma," says Laxmi Upadyay, a small time seed seller, who prefers to move on for a marriage ceremony instead of waiting for Seema, who is scheduled to arrive at Shaseshpur, his village.
Seema, however, is unruffled. "I know I am no Phoolan. Nor have I any desire to become one. This is just the beginning. Abhi to bahut Ladna hai logon ke liye
…purey dum ke saath
," she asserts.
Despite the outwardly off hand touch, Seema indeed is working carefully on her career script. The Wounded
calendar is out and being distributed by a bunch of supporters apparently to compensate for the lackluster responses. "The film catalogues a woman's trials, deprivations and her angst against a society dominated by men," says a supporter. "Girls don't run away to the jungles of Chambal by choice. Situations force them," says Parihar.
A terror by 20, Parihar, however, wants to bury her past including those "few instances" when she took up the gun — all makes from .303 to the AK series— forever.
The mother of 13-year-old son Swagat, Parihar has reasons to start afresh. "I have severed all links with the past. I have a son to bring up, and a entire society to look after," she tells the electorates.
This is the voice of a mother, and a politician. The dacoit in her seems dead.
Mirzapur, however, seems to have boiled down to a battle between BSP's Romesh Dubey and BJP's Asharam Yadav.
Congress candidate Shaukat Ali Ansari also appears struggling hard to get into the fight along with former Samajwadi Party MP Ramrati Singh Bind.
Seema may have to wait.