A former Maoist area commander, Ranjan Yadav, who is at present member of Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) in Jharkhand, said that the Aam Admi Party (AAP)'s emphasis on honesty in politics had the potential to change political affairs and to encourage more people to join active politics.
“If there are more honest leaders such as there are in AAP in Delhi's new government, things could change for the better. AAP has talked of reforms in service delivery of water, electricity to common people. Their honesty is changing the state of things already,” said Ranjan alias Keshar Yadav, 46, who was an area commander in CPI (Maoists) in Lohardaga district and a member of the party 19 years.
In 2009, Mr Yadav had contested the parliamentary elections from Chatra district on a CPI (ML) ticket while in jail. He has since joined RJD and is preparing to contest from Palamu in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, though the party has not formally announced his candidature.
Since Ranjan Yadav joined mainstream politics in 2009, the CPI (Maoists) have issued public statements condemning him as a traitor. Last September, the CPI (Maoists)’s Koel Sankh Zone leader Sudhir issued a six-page statement against Yadav and two others – Yugal Pal, a former member of the zonal committee who had announced that he plans to join All Jharkhand Students' Union and former sub zonal commander Vinod Sharma – saying they did not have the party's support and anyone supporting their candidature will be tried by a jan adalat (people's court).
“Since a fatwa was issued against me by the party, I fear an attack. Yugal Pal has said that he may reconsider his decision to join politics. But more than their threat, I have doubts about joining politics because I know people perceive politicians as unscrupulous. But AAP’s honesty and their talking of common people's agenda can change this,” said Ranjan Yadav dressed in a white dhoti and white shawl in his sparsely furnished house that is still under construction in Namkum at the edge of Ranchi.
“In Jharkhand, there are areas such as Mahuadan in Latehar and parts of Chatra where there is no electricity even after 60 years of independence, big corporations mine coal and iron ore but infants in villages cannot even attend a good school, these re issues I want to raise through politics,” he said.
While the CPI (Maoists) had condemned Mr Yadav for collaborating with the police in paramilitary operations against the Maoists, Mr Yadav refuted the allegations. “The police is exploting cracks within the party by supporting splinter groups such as the Tritiya Sammelan Prastuti Committee. If the only reason for their condemning me was that I joined political mainstream, why did they not issue a statement about Kamehswar Baitha (JMM' MP from Palamu, also a former Maoist leader)?Senior politicians in the area – both from JVM-P and a Independent MP - are using the party to target me,” he alleged.
Ranjan Yadav had joined the CPI-M-L( Party Unity) in 1990 at 23 while working as a petty contractor in Palamu. “There is a lot of work the party has done for ordinary villagers, redistributing land, building checkdams, building schools. It has several revolutionary leaders. But some opportunists have entered the party too who have weakened the party even as police pressure has increased,” he said. “Leaving the party was not an easy decision. I tried speaking about some issues including corruption but did not get an adequate response,” he said.