As a stingy left-arm orthodox bowler, the arm ball was her forte. And as a hard-hitting left-handed batswoman, she had the knack for clearing the ropes at will.
Politics might have denied Ranee Narah the opportunity to represent the Indian women’s cricket team in the 1980s but she drew upon her all-round cricketing abilities to hit dissidence for a six and clean-bowling five MLAs who opposed her candidature for the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat in northeastern Assam.
The Congress was in a quandary after five legislators – Rajib Lochan Pegu, Sumitra Patir, Ghana Buragohain, Raju Sahu and Bolin Chetia – representing as many Assembly seats under Lakhimpur, opposed Ranee’s selection.
The party High Command, they grumbled, overlooked their first choice candidate – actress and former beauty queen Bobeeta Sarma – to give the ticket to Ranee, 44. The latter, they said, was a failure as a two-time MP from Lakhimpur, which resulted in her loss to the Asom Gana Parishad’s (AGP’s) Arun Kumar Sarma in the last Lok Sabha elections.
The five also met Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday, threatening to quit if the party did not reconsider the list of probable candidates they had submitted to the All India Congress Committee. Gogoi advised them to cool down, maintaining that party chief Sonia Gandhi had assented to Ranee’s choice.
She is the only woman candidate among 13 the Congress has fielded for as many seats. Sure enough, the five “regretted” their rebellion 24 hours later. And they made peace with Ranee by Tuesday afternoon.
But as they pointed out, not before the former MP had promised not to repeat the same mistakes. “As in cricket, politics sometimes does not work to a game plan,” said Ranee, who also represented Assam in volleyball, weightlifting, shot putt and discus before settling for what she was best at – the willow-and-wicket game.
“The best bowling goes unrewarded and you lose despite scoring a century. But all’s well that ends well.” And how did she make peace? Gently.
“For, cricket is as much a lady’s game as a gentleman’s,” said the former captain of the Assam women’s cricket team and wife of Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bharat Chandra Narah.
Bharat has an equally colourful past, having been one of key leaders of the students' movement against foreigners in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A minister at 27 in the first AGP government in 1985, he however, soon fell out with party chief Prafulla Mahanta and quit to join the Congress.