Among the 315 first-timers in the current Lok Sabha are a few who have made it there without inheriting a family legacy. A look at 10 of them, who also happen to be from the weaker sections, but who are otherwise from backgrounds as diverse as student activism, homemaking and scholarly pursuits:
Prathap Simha, 37
Journalist with Kannada Prabha
A Kannada journalist who follows the Hindutva hardline, he earned fame and also many enemies with his column “Bettale Jagattu” (The Naked World). An English-language journalist and some others were arrested for allegedly trying to kill him; the NIA later cleared the journalist and another accused while chargesheeting the rest. Simha has written a book on Narendra Modi, The Untrodden Road. He got the BJP ticket at the instance of the RSS. “I dream of getting a Mysore-Bangalore bullet train and will present a proposal to the PM,” he says. He plans to use his MPLAD fund for roads and wants to help tobacco farmers. “Party politics got over for me on May 16… I am going to pursue politics of development,” he says.
Maragatham Kumaravel, 32
B Com student, TN Open University
Associated with the AIADMK since age 18, and a grassroots worker along with her husband, she rose to become the head of her village panchayat. J Jayalalithaa herself launched her election campaign and thereafter placed AIADMK floor leader in the Rajya Sabha V Maitreyan in charge of the constituency. A Dalit with an interest in religious literature, she had the local Christian community behind her. Just to ensure that she does not say anything that may irk Amma, she has left it to one of her minders to take all her phone calls.
Anupam Hazra, 32
Assistant professor (social work), Visva-Bharati
A scholar yet cast in the mould of a grassroots activist, he defeated Ramchandra Dom of the CPM in what used to be Somnath Chatterjee’s stronghold. According to Hazra, “Our leader Mamata Banerjee was keen on fielding an academic from the constituency that is home to Santiniketan.” Hazra is an author of three books and contributes regularly to journals on issues such as development, poverty and environment. “I will now have a platform to articulate my ideas for the uplift of the underprivileged and blend theories with action on the ground,” he says.
Balka Suman, 31
MA (English) pursuing Ph D
Initially a student leader at Osmania University, he attracted notice during the Telangana agitation. He joined the TRS in 2012 and was made president of TRSV, its student wing. Balka hit the headlines when, during a discussion that was being telecast live, he assaulted a fellow participant who had charged him with fraud. Balka confesses he had never thought of being elected to the Lok Sabha until K Chandrasekhara Rao offered him a ticket. “But for KCR, there would have been no Telangana state, nor would have I become a member of the Lok Sabha,” he says.
K R P Prabhakaran
Amid popular sentiment against the DMK in the aftermath of the 2G scam, there was no dearth of people wanting the AIADMK ticket from its stronghold of Tirunelveli. J Jayalalithaa selected this long-time loyalist. He is a second-generation AIADMK worker, his father Pauldurai having been a village-level office-bearer. Prabhakaran was active in the party’s youth wing. His says his priority is cleansing of the Tamara Bharani river. Mindful of his role in Delhi, he is currently learning Hindi and found himself a tutor.
Anupriya Patel, 33
Apna Dal, Mirzapur
MA (psychology) who once taught at Amity University
Anupriya is both an inheritor and a self-made politician. She entered politics following the death of her father, Apna Dal founder Sone Lal Patel, in 2009. She was the lone winner of her party in the 2012 UP assembly polls. Amit Shah reached out to her for an understanding ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, his sights on the Kurmi vote in Varanasi, where Anupriya represented the Rohaniya assembly segment. As she resisted his offer of a merger, Shah ultimately forged an alliance. While Modi won Varanasi, she got elected from neighbouring Mirzapur. Confident and articulate, Anupriya has already shown promise with her debut participation in the discussion on the motion of thanks to the presidential address.
Uma Soren, 30
Trinamool Congress, Jhargram
She is the first female Santhal member of the Lok Sabha. Daughter of a retired group-D employee of the railways, she won her seat with a massive margin of 3.50 lakh votes. A political novice, Uma is under the tutelage of Mukul Roy while she is in Delhi and by local party functionaries while at home. Uma organised free health camps along with volunteers in the Adivasi-dominated Junglemahal. The effort earned her the sobriquet “Doctor Didi” and caught the attention of West Bengal’s “Didi”, Mamata Banerjee. She took oath in the old Santhali language Alchiki, a first in the history of Parliament.
Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, 38
A tea tribe leader, Tasa defeated six-time winner Bijoy Krishna Handique in a Congress bastion, home to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. He is the BJP state vice-president and general secretary of Tea and Ex-tea Garden Labourers Development Association. Before he joined the BJP, he was a general secretary of the Assam Tea Tribes Students Association. After winning the election, he vowed to launch a campaign to deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants from his constituency with a campaign to be initiated by BJYM. In the first phase, he says, “we will appeal to immigrants to leave our land and also launch a house-to-house movement urging people not to engage these immigrants in any kind of work”.
MA (sociology), farmer
Patel began with student politics and later graduated to a wider canvas, occupying various positions in the BJYM. Thereafter, he moved over to the Scheduled Tribe cell of the Madhya Pradesh BJP. His sole electoral victory before the Lok Sabha polls was in the Rajpur Nagar panchayat elections. An Adivasi, he is keen on the education of tribal children. He also wants to ensure rail and road links between Indore and Manmad and that a network of canals is constructed to carry irrigation water from Indira Sagar Dam to fields in the countryside.
Priyanka Singh Rawat, 28
Former media professional
The wife of an IAS officer, Priyanka defeated sitting Congress MP Panna Lal Punia, chairman of the SC Commission. Then she made the politically incorrect decision of appointing her father Uttam Ram, a retired PCS officer, as her representative at all official meetings at district level. The move came the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office. She revoked the decision after a word from the party leadership, with Modi having already instructed ministers not to appoint relatives on their personal staff.