Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), a political party that associates itself largely with poor, illiterate and ignorant tribespeople, on Tuesday drafted in a Harvard educated, upper caste non-Jharkhandi to boost its profile ahead of the state assembly elections.
Kunal Sarangi, 33, son of former Jharkhand health minister Dinesh Sarangi, has already staked his claim as the party candidate for the Baharagora seat in East Singhbhum district, one of the most impoverished constituencies in the country.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who was present at his induction ceremony held at the semi urban town bordering West Bengal on the east and Orissa on the west, dropped enough hints that Sarangi would be the party candidate for the seat dominated by Oriya speaking people.
An engineer by training, Sarangi holds a masters’ degree in global media and communications from London School of Economics as well as a program in leadership development from Harvard University.
His father was a two-time legislator from Baharagora, who had a long association with the BJP before he severed ties and switched to Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM-P) when the former denied him ticket to contest the 2009 parliamentary poll.
The senior Sarangi quit JVM-P a few months back and went on to announce his retirement from active politics, apparently to make way for his son who was keen to represent the local people in the state assembly.
Insiders in the BJP said the father-son duo lobbied hard to get the BJP ticket for either of them, but the party leadership remained non-committal. Sarangi wasted no time in associating with JMM which has a very strong cadre base in the area.
So what lured him to JMM? “It’s a school of politics in this part of the country,” Sarangi said, calling the JMM the nursery of many of Jharkhandi leaders, and the young leader and CM, Hemant Soren, dynamic, decisive and educated.
After completing his studies and working with a couple of companies in the national capital, Sarangi returned to Bahargora to do social work.
Soren had once told a section of the media that his voters do not read newspapers and watch television. Opposition had then slammed him for taking pride in keeping his voters illiterate and ignorant.
So how does Sarangi fit into such a party?
“It must be a negative propaganda of (the) opposition parties. His work in last one year scores more in comparison to (the) last 13 years of BJP rule,” Sarangi said.
With Sarangi in fray, the battle for Bahargora seat has only got complicated. In the last elections, people had voted for the JMM candidate, Vidhyut Mahato, but he switched to the BJP days ahead of the April parliamentary poll and successfully contested the Jamshedpur seat.
Sarangi said voters in Bahargora now see Mahato as a political turncoat, which is why they would vote for the JMM.
Box to go with JMM, Harvard's Kunal Sarangi report
Ranchi: The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha consolidated its position in the Santhal Parganas by inducting Hari Narayan Rai, a two-time independent legislator from Jarmundi and former minister in the Madhu Koda-led government. This comes at a time when the BJP and the Congress are making serious inroads into its bastion.
Rai’s formal entry into the JMM is scheduled on October 31 in the presence of the chief minister at a party rally in Basukinath. The former minister has been booked by the CBI in a disproportionate asset case along with Koda and his former cabinet colleagues- Bhanu Pratap Shahi, Kamlesh Singh and Enos Ekka.
Despite the taint of a CBI probe, Rai had managed to repeat his win the Jarmundi seat in the 2009 elections as an independent candidate while still lodged in jail.