Vikas Munda last week rode into Hindridih, a tribal hamlet where no politician has dared to go since 2008, and tried to dispel with the help of faint glows from cellphones and a solar lamp post the forced fear to vote among the villagers.
The Maoist writ runs unquestioned in this village, 5km off National Highway 33 in Tamar, and the people there haven’t voted since the 2009 assembly election because of the insurgents’ poll boycott calls.
'The fear was reinforced when Maoists gunned down Tamar legislator and then welfare minister, Ramesh Singh Munda, on July 9, 2008.
Memories of that gruesome incident haunt the villagers even today and politicians never visit the place after sunset.
Ramesh Singh Munda’s 31-year-old son Vikas, a BJP-backed AJSU candidate for the Tamar seat this election, broke the play-safe strategy with a small rally at Hindridih around 8.30 pm on Thursday.
This is the young Munda’s second assembly election, having lost the 2009 poll to JD(U)’s Gopal Krishna Patr aka Raja Peter.
Five years on, Vikas is neither wary of the Maoists nor his opponents. Ahead of the December 2 voting, he is visiting every village in the grip of the Maoist menace.
“They killed my father because he was actively involved in motivating youngsters to shun the gun. I have pledged to complete his unaccomplished tasks,” said the commerce graduate.
Tamar has been a hive of left-wing extremism as top Maoist commander Kundan Pahan, accused of more than 70 killings, controls large swaths of this forest-covered constituency.
Besides, Vikas has competition from 11 other candidates — three former Maoists and Mahadeo Pahan, the JVM-P candidate and Kundan Pahan’s nephew.
“Some our workers have been threatened but they have responded befittingly,” Vikas said, who moves around in a six-SUV convoy and shadowed by two personal guards and five armed policemen.