A 33-year-old hotel management graduate turned social activist, who won the Padman of Jharkhand title for distributing sanitary pads among impoverished rural women and spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene in suburban Ranchi, is set to contest the upcoming Bihar assembly polls from Harlakhi constituency of the neighbouring state.
Mangesh Jha, whose independent efforts have led to acceptance of sanitary pads in more than 600 rural households in the outskirts of Ranchi, has got a ticket from Plurals party in Bihar and is banking on the support of socially-aware youths and women in his maiden shot at politics.
After working with top hotels in the country, Mangesh quit his job in 2014 with the intent to serve and uplift the rural society, especially women and children.
Cut to 2020, Mangesh aims at making menstrual hygiene a priority not only for activists but also for the government. Menstruation, he said, was still a taboo in Bihar. Hygiene and health of women needs to be a priority for the government, he added. His poll agenda, however, is not only restricted to issues related to women, but also covers other aspects of the society.
“So many migrants have returned to Bihar during the lockdown and are practically struggling to meet ends now. Unemployment is a major issue here,” he said. “There has been no real development in Bihar in the past several decades. And I strongly believe that we will see development only when we overcome our prejudices based on caste, community, colour and sex,” added Mangesh.
The poor state of affairs in Bihar encouraged him to enter active politics. “Be it Bihar or Jharkhand, our issues are more or less similar. Challenges in health, infrastructure and education sectors continue to hold us back,” Mangesh said over phone after filing nomination for the elections.
Winning and losing, he said, was a part and parcel of life, and the election results will not deter him from achieving his goals. “I obviously want to win. But even if I don’t, I will continue working for my people in whatever way I can. This is the time to change. We need more participation of youths in active politics in order to bring positive changes,” he added.
Originally from Bihar, Mangesh calls Ranchi his second home. He has spent more than seven years in the city, and keeps frequenting the Jharkhand capital.