Indian Express

Niece vs aunt in battle for Jagjivan Ram legacy

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Medhavi Kirti, Meira Kumar. c r sasikumar Medhavi Kirti, Meira Kumar. c r sasikumar

Just when it looked like a triangular contest between IFS officer Meira Kumar, former IAS officer KP Ramaiah of the JD(U) and the BJP’s Chhedi Paswan, the entry of Medhavi Kirti as the BSP candidate has added a family twist to Sasaram. She is a niece of Meira Kumar, and the BSP believes the influence it has in this constituency, which adjoins UP, will be enough to spoil the chances of the Lok Sabha speaker.

Medhavi Kirti, who joined politics soon after postgraduating from New Delhi’s Jawahrlal Nehru University, was a minister in the Devi Lal government in Haryana. Kirti, whose husband Anuj Prakash is an IAS officer, was never a full-time politician even though she had been heading the Congress (J) that had some influence in Haryana politics during the days of Bansi Lal and Choudhary Devi Lal.

Relations have not been cordial between Medhavi — daughter of the late Suresh Ram, only son of former deputy PM Jagjivan Ram — and her aunt for many years now, reportedly after a dispute over land at Palwal in Faridabad. Meira is Suresh Ram’s sister.

Medhavi, who visits Sasaram infrequently, had campaigned for BJP candidate Munilal Ram in the 2004 elections against Meira Kumar, who won that election and retained the seat in 2009. Meira had, however, lost to Chhedi Paswan in 1999. Sasaram was long been represented by Jagjivan Ram. Kirti often talked about how the constituency continued to suffer from neglect under Meira Kumar’s tenure.

After floating the Jagjivan Ram Baba Saheb Ambedkar National Congress (J) in 2012, Medhavi was invited by the BSP to contest from Sasaram because its likely candidate, Pankaj Kumar Ram, joined the JD (U) a few days earlier . She is likely to file her nomination from Sasaram Thursday.

Explaining the rivalry between Meira and Medhavi, a senior Congress leader said: “Blood never unites. It is also about Medhavi often losing out to Meira in staking a claim to Jagjivan Ram’s legacy. While Medhavi was never committed to Bihar, Meira had stayed put here and is the true heir of the Dalit leader’s legacy”.

Congress national spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra played down Medhavi’s opposition to Meira. “The BSP has some influence in areas bordering UP. It might arouse interest among voters but Medhavi does not pose any threat to Meira Kumar,” he said.

The BSP’s Bihar unit chief Bharat Bind, however, said that Medhavi might spring a surprise and the Congress should not take her lightly. “We have put in our best efforts in this area and have done pretty well in previous assembly elections too. Medhavi can prove that she is as much a claimant of Babu Jagjivan Ram’s legacy as Meira Kumar.”

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