In July 2021, Congress MLA from Bermo Kumar Jaimangal lodged a complaint about attempts being made to “destabilise the coalition government in Jharkhand”. Based on his complaint, an FIR was registered at the Kotwali Police Station and three persons were arrested, one a fruit-seller with alleged ties to the BJP.
The BJP denied any links, the government did not face any trouble, and the matter died down.
Almost exactly a year later, it is Jaimangal again who has filed a complaint following the arrest of three Congress MLAs in West Bengal with Rs 50 lakh in cash. He has again alleged a bid to topple the JMM-Congress-RJD government in the state, with an offer of Rs 10 crore per MLA; and claimed that the MLAs had lured him to meet Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
While the three MLAs have been suspended from the Congress as the West Bengal Police continues its investigations, Jaimangal found himself in a spot Tuesday when Assam government spokesperson Pijush Hazarika posted the MLA’s photos with Sarma and Union minister Pralhad Joshi.
Jaimangal had been meeting Sarma himself, Hazarika said, showing that his allegations against the Assam CM were “fraudulent”.
Hours later, the Jharkhand Congress was yet to react to Hazarika’s post. However, Kumar Jaimangal responded to Pijush Hazarika’s tweet, and said that the meeting with Himanta and Joshi was because the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) was not called in a meeting in Coal India and that CM Hemant Soren and Jharkhand Congress in-charge Avinash Pande were informed about it. “I have not levelled any allegations against anyone, and only informed the conversation that I had with my MLA colleagues,” he wrote in the tweet.
Earlier, Sarma too claimed that he knew Jaimangal well, and met him frequently, particularly in relation to trade unions.
That union link goes back to Jaimangal’s father, the late veteran trade union leader and six-time Congress MLA from Bermo Rajendra Prasad Singh. Now 35, Jaimangal alias Anoop Singh is said to have had a ringside view of politics since he was just a boy, trailing his father along on his rounds. Soon, he followed his father into politics, dropping out of school when not yet in Class 10.
Jaimangal first came to limelight after he became vice-president of the state Youth Congress in 2009. A Congress leader said he managed to secure the post despite veteran Subodh Kant Sahay, then a Cabinet minister, backing another candidate. In 2012, he became the president of the Youth Congress.
Jaimangal first became an MLA in 2020, winning the by-election necessitated by his father’s death, with close to 50% of the votes.
He has one FIR against him, registered in 2013, for rioting. In his election affidavit, Jaimangal explained that it was a charge arising out of collection of “illegal crowds laced with deadly weapons to injure someone”.
A party leader close to him said: “Jaimangal is a brilliant political manager and one of the few Congress MLAs to be in constant touch with his electorate.” On the BJP’s claims of his proximity to them, the source admitted he has “some explaining to do”, adding: “The fact that Jaimangal always had information on issues means people in the BJP may have been in touch with him.”
Giving an example of his clout, a party leader said: “After his term was over, Jaimangal was able to bring his own brother into the Youth Congress. Three Congress MLAs in the current government are from his committee when he was the president of the Youth Congress.”
There is a story about him that everyone likes to recount. In a civic body election, two candidates backed by him were not getting the nod from the party for tickets. A leader in the know said Jaimangal confronted the party leadership and put down on paper that if the two candidates did not win, he would resign.
Having secured the party’s support for the two, the leader said, Jaimangal hit the road and campaigned for them like he would do for his father. Both won.