Subhashree Panda is contesting from Ranpur Assembly seat

For Subhashree Panda, the task of carrying herself as the wife of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda becomes a challenge during elections when she has to acquit herself from her husband’s violent movement. However, the top Maoist leader’s wife who is contesting from Odisha’s Ranpur Assembly seat seems unfazed.

“People know my husband has been fighting for a cause. He has no connection with electoral politics. In the same way, I do not have anything to do with violence. Contesting election is an individual choice which I have made,” Ms. Panda told The Hindu on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old mother identified her husband as a ‘social activist’ in her affidavit. “It is a tough challenge to fight an election against a candidate from an established party. The journey have been smooth, had my husband been on my side at this juncture,” she said.

Ms. Panda, who is fighting the election on a ticket from the newly formed ‘Ama Odisha’, said she had never faced any uncomfortable questions about her husband during the campaign.

“Rather, when I meet people they often express concerns about the safety of my husband. The concern grows when news about an encounter between security forces and my husband appears in newspapers. People are very sympathetic towards him. They hope he remains alive wherever he is,” she said

Sabyasachi Panda who has been on the run after his separation from CPI (Maoist), had reportedly sustained serious bullet injuries in a recent encounter with security forces on Ganjam-Kandhamal border. Panda, who has formed his Odisha Maoist Party, is left with very few associates. The dreaded Maoist leader was the mastermind of an attack on police in Nayagarh in February 2008, in which 14 policemen were killed. Also, he faces over 30 charges of murder, including that of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmanananda Saraswati.

In Ranpur of Odisha’s Nayagarh district, his wife, however, committed herself to development of the region by focusing on revival of agriculture, security of women, anti-liquor movement, health and education.

“If any of my opponents try to exploit my identity associated with my husband, they will invite wrath of Election Commission.

“The EC has clearly instructed political parties to refrain from making personal attacks. As I have gone through intense public scrutiny, people will not be misguided,” she said. Ms. Panda in her affidavit stated she was facing charges of criminal conspiracy. But the charges had not been framed against her.