BJD’s Chandrani Murmu to be youngest ever Lok Sabha MP

The 25-year-old BTech graduate won the reserved Keonjhar seat defeating a two-time MP.

Until a few months ago she was unknown and was hunting for a job. Her aim was to either become a probationary officer in a bank or an assistant section officer in the Odisha government or a mechanical engineer in a private company. But in a twist of fate, she has become a Member of Parliament instead.

Meet Chandrani Murmu, 25 years, 11 months and eight days old as on Friday, and who has won the Keonjhar Lok Sabha seat (reserved for Scheduled Tribes) on Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ticket by defeating two-time BJP MP Ananta Nayak by a margin of 66,203 votes. She will enter the Lok Sabha as the youngest woman member in the Lower House’s history, and likely to be sworn in as MP before turning 26 on July 16.

Until now, the record has been held by Dushyant Chautala, founder of the Jannayak Janta Party representing Hisar Lok Sabha constituency in Haryana in the 16th Lok Sabha. He is the grandson of well-known Haryana politician Om Prakash Chautala.

Emerging from a long special puja following her stupendous success in Keonjhar on Thursday, Ms. Murmu was busy receiving congratulatory messages.

Her selection as the BJD candidate came out of the blue. The regional party, as part of its stated position to send 33% women to the Lok Sabha, was looking for a candidate with professional qualification and willing to enter public life.

Ms. Murmu, whose maternal grandfather was Keonjhar MP, grabbed the opportunity. However, none of her family members from either side was in active politics in the last two decades.

She had completed her B. Tech from the city-based SOA University in 2017 and has been on a job search either in the engineering or the general sector.

Asked if she felt nervous about having to lock horns with the country’s top politicians in debates in Lok Sabha, a confident Ms. Murmu said, “When I have already opted for politics as a career, my age will not determine how forceful my voice in Parliament will be. I will justify my election as an MP.”

Representing Keonjhar has always been a challenge. Though possessing India’s 20% of iron ore reserves and is rich in mineral resources, the district lags in many human development indices. So much so, it has earned the epithet, ‘A rich land with poor people’.

“I am aware of the tag attached to Keonjhar. Since the announcement of my candidature was made only a few weeks before filing of nomination, I did not have enough time to visit all corners of Keonjhar. Frankly speaking, I am not aware of the challenges I have to face being a people’s representative. My first priority will be to know the constituency and spend as much as time with the people,” she said.

The campaign was not a cakewalk for her. For instance, political opponents had reportedly photo-shopped her image to launch a personal attack through WhatsApp. The police had swiftly swung into action and arrested the culprits.

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