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From Tisco apprentice to giant-killer

January 09, 2009 13:25 IST
Last Updated: January 09, 2009 13:26 IST

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Once an apprentice with Tata Steel [Get Quote], 46-year-old Gopal Krishna Patar now proudly carries the 'giant killer' tag after humbling Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supremo Shibu Soren in the by-election to the Tamar assembly constituency.

Patar, more popularly known as 'Raja Peter' in the steel city of Jamshedpur and Tamar, had little pretensions to be a politician when he joined as an apprentice with the steel major.

But over the years, Patar aspired to contest the assembly election though he failed to win a Congress nomination in 2005. He fought the polls none the less as an Independent and lost to Ramesh Singh Munda of Janata Dal-United by about 4,000 votes.

Born in Jamshedpur, Patar intended to work in Tata Steel where his father, known as 'Patar babu', worked in the community development department. His elder brother Radha Krishna also worked there.

"We all are proud of Raja, whose toil from childhood till now has made the family hold its head high," his elder sister Geeta Singh Munda told newsmen in Jamshedpur soon after her brother completed the giant killing act on Thursday.

Raja began his early education at Tisco High School and then studied at the R D Tata High School in the steel city.

"He soon got embroiled in some criminal cases and even went to jail. Among his peers, he was Raja Peter," said Jharkhand Peoples Party president and one of the veterans of the statehood movement Surya Singh Besra, who also belongs to Jamshedpur.

"Despite having criminal cases against him, we have to respect the mandate given to him. All the more since he defeated a tribal personality who too got his share of cases," Besra, a former legislator who resigned in 1991 on the floor of the Bihar assembly protesting against Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad's opposition to statehood for Jharkhand.

"In his bid to serve the people, he left Jamshedpur for Tamar several years ago and got down to finding solutions to peoples' problems which endeared him to many," claimed D Manki of Nawadih in Tamar assembly constituency.

Patar burst into the limelight when he was fielded by the JPP against Soren, causing confusion in the United Progressive Alliance ranks as his party was one of the allies of the coalition.

It led to Soren sacking JPP president and rural development minister Enos Ekka from his cabinet on December 18.

"For Ekka, Raja turned out to be a real king who dethroned the eminent tribal leader," party leaders remarked.

However, Patar chose not to say a word against Soren, more popularly known among tribals as "Guruji".

"I don't answer questions pertaining to others. I only answer those directed to me," Patar replied diplomatically when a reporter asked him whether he demanded the chief minister's resignation following his defeat.

"I am here to work for the people. It is their triumph, and I will work hard to uplift their standard of living," he said.

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