Great leaders choose trailblazers and that’s what Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik did when he reached out to a 25-year-old Chandrani Murmu with an MP ticket from Keonjhar. Being a state party, Patnaik’s Biju Janta Dal has a stronghold in Odisha and that did not deter him from fielding a political novice like Murmu directly for the parliamentary seat. In return, tribal girl Murmu delivered precisely to the expectations as she won the seat against BJP’s Ananta Nayak. Nayak has represented the Keonjhar constituency in the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha.
Murmu tells SheThePeople.TV, “I am very happy with the result but more than my win it is the victory of the people of my constituency. It is them who voted for a new face like me, and yet they voted in such large numbers. It is the people who gave me so much love and support and sent me to the parliament so I have taken it as my responsibility to serve the people.”
“I will learn something new every day as long as I am a politician and I want to keep my personality intact and not change to fit into a politician’s mould. I don’t want to get swayed by power and I never want to lose my originality that differentiates me from the rest,” added 25-year-old engineering graduate from the city-based SOA University, Murmu.
She got 5.26 lakh votes while her competitor Nayak got 4.60 lakh votes. She won by over 66,000 votes.
BJD wanted a ‘highly educated woman’
Murmu was on the lookout for a job in the government when this opportunity to contest in the Lok Sabha elections literally fell into her lap. “I completed my B. Tech degree in mechanical field in 2017 and after that; I wanted to find a government job so I was preparing for it. Meanwhile, one of my relative who is a party worker approached me saying that BJD is looking for a highly educated woman as their party’s candidate for Keonjhar as this seat is reserved for scheduled tribes. In that sense, I fit the bill for them and then they asked me if I would like to become the candidate. I instantly agreed to the offer and it all happened very quickly,” she recounted.
On her own response to the whole incident, she said, “It was like a dream for me but I had an interest in politics, won’t deny that. My maternal grandfather was also in politics and so there is a political atmosphere in my family although none of my immediate family members are in politics.”
Nervous during campaigning
Murmu who will turn 26 in June also spoke about her experience while canvassing for her candidacy; she said that on the first day she was very nervous. “I am an outgoing person as I do mingle with friends and family but when I went to meet the crowd who were waiting for me to come and meet them it was a very different feeling. I really liked it, especially, when people’s response was so positive towards me that it just made me feel better. I tried to reach out to as many people as I could.”
Local issues to tackle
She is all set to resume work and entering her office is her priority. She wants to set up a steel plant and establish a railway line so transport is more accessible to people among other things. “Since my area is rich in iron ore, people have wanted a steel plant here for a very long time. I will try and send a proposal to the centre for that. If it happens then people of my constituency will be very happy. Secondly, there are only two trains between Keonjhar and Bhubaneswar which runs on a single railway line. Though our communication isn’t very strong with the railway department, we will still try to do something around this issue.
“I will learn something new every day as long as I am a politician and I want to keep my personality intact and not change to fit into a politician’s mould. I don’t want to get swayed by power and I never want to lose my originality that differentiates me from the rest”
“Additionally, there are a few other projects which are lying dormant so I want to first take up major issues that impact my constituency and work on those,” she stated.
Murmu also expressed her concern for the youth and women in tribal areas in Odisha. “Our education system till date hasn’t reached the grass-root level. Gender discrimination in education runs high even today in the rural belt because of lack of proper education and until that dispels there won’t be any development. As a young candidate, since I got this chance I would like to extend it to the young people in my area too. I want the youth here to get opportunities whether in politics or whichever field they choose to be in.”
In a remarkable shift, this time we have the highest number of women MPs in the parliament with a total of 78 women MPs out of 542 seats. Of these 78 women MPs, a total of seven women MPs belong to Odisha making it the first state ever to have 33% or the largest share of women MPs out of its total of 21 seats.