He has no cash in hand, has Rs 500 in the bank, possesses two life insurance policies worth Rs 75,000 and owns a small piece of land, the present market value of which is just a little more than Rs70,000. His property is nowhere near what the police had claimed — life insurance policy worth Rs 1 crore and a palatial house in Mayurbhanj — in 2008-’09.
On Tuesday, Chhatradhar Mahato, former spokesperson of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who is now in Midnapore Central Jail facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, filed his nomination as an Independent candidate from the Jhargram Assembly constituency. Forty-five-year-old Mahato is contesting under the banner of the Santras-Durniti Samrajyabadi Aagrasan Birodhi Ganatantrik Manacha (Democratic platform against terror, corruption and imperialist aggression).
“Since I can’t campaign in the election, my supporters will do it for me. I also request the Election Commission and district administration to ensure that those who campaign for me are not harassed,” Mahato told HT. He has also requested Magsaysay-winning octogenarian author Mahashweta Devi and other intellectuals to come to the area and campaign for him and his cause as they had done in 2009.
“Chhatradhar’s demands are justified. Although I cannot go to campaign since I am not keeping good health, I do endorse his demands and urge the voters there to vote for him,” Mahasweta Devi told HT.
Mahato is one of the most prominent faces to campaign for tribal rights and the Maoist struggle in West Bengal and the Jhargram constituency encompasses a majority of the Maoist hotspots, such as Lalgarh, Ramgarh, Kantapahari, Manikpara, Sapdhara. The area will go to polls on May 10.
While Mahato was filing his nomination inside the SDO’s office, his supporters staged a rally in Jhargram town.