She has secured the highest victory margin (3.50 lakh votes) among all 42 Lok Sabha election winners in the state, and is the first Santhal woman MP. To her party, however, Dr Uma Soren, 28, MP from Jhargram, remains a novice. It has asked her not to take decisions on her constituency without prior approval of Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy and also to avoid journalists.
At a meeting in the Trinamool’s Jhargram office this week, it was decided that committees would be set up at every assembly segment. And these committees, rather than the MP, would take decisions pertaining to various projects.
Banabehari Dey, the party’s Lalgarh block president, said, “It was decided that if she wants to visit a place, she will take the block president along with her. If there is tension in any area, she will have to take the approval of the district president before going there. Committees will be formed in all assembly segments to take decisions on developmental projects. Senior leaders have directed us to do so as Soren is a novice with no contact with grassroots workers.”
Some party insiders add that given the perception of a Maoist threat, these measures will ensure Soren is safe as she works for the constituency.
Party sources say Soren’s connection with pro-Maoist tribal outfits, too, is a reason for worry. Soren, an MBBS, formed a team of doctors and nurses that organised health camps in the densely forested villages of Junglemahal during the Maoist movement. She was popular as “Doctor Didi” among members of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocity (PCAPA), a frontal organisation of Maoists.
Ashok Jiban Ghosh, a former PCAPA member, said, “Soren used to lead a group that visited villages to organise health camps. Then suddenly we heard she is the Trinamool candidate.”
Swarup Bhattacharya, Trinamool leader and Soren’s assistant, dismissed her reported links with the PCAPA. “Even if she treated a PCAPA leader or member, she did it as a doctor. She is the leader of a team that has worked in tribal areas across Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bengal. For four years, they have raised money to provide healthcare free. That’s how she caught Mamata’s attention.”
Soren’s victory margin was 3,50,756 votes against her nearest rival, CPM’s Pulin Behari Baskey who, incidentally, had secured the highest margin of 3,50,000 in 2009.
Kiran Bedi tried to establish her credentials as a secular, pro-women candidate.