Heads turned in the Parliament on March 8, International Women’s Day this year when Ranjeet Ranjan, Congress MP from Supaul, Bihar, arrived in Parliament on her orange – black Harley Davidson, the iconic American bike which weighs around 300 kgs and has a 1600 cc engine.
Her ride to the Parliament was made not just to comply with the odd even rules of Delhi roads, but also to put the focus on woman power and lend support to women who navigate the choppy waters of a male dominated society. She had been wanting to ride to Parliament on her bike for a long time and Woman’s Day seemed like a perfect day to send the message that women must be bold as they hesitate to come forward. Ranjeet’s rise to fame has been widely reported by the media.
How do these women handle the challenges life throws at them? If you often wonder how life pans out for women who go off the beaten path like many of the women riders that we have featured, read on. Here’s a peek into the life of Ranjeet Ranjan. it is a story of incredible hope, grit and determination in the face of extreme odds. It is a case study of a turnaround writ by a woman who rides a Harley Davidson to clear her head.
Ranjeet and Rajesh Ranjan are the Parliament’s only couple. He is a four time MP and she is a first timer. He won on RJD ticket and she on Congress. She is 42, mother of two children.
Pappu Yadav was a don with a criminal record in the Bihar politics and close to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav at one time.
Rewind twenty years back: A gutsy girl becomes a state champion in tennis and draws the attention of a roughneck of town Rajesh Ranjan. He proposes marriage. She is a Sikhni, he is a Bihari. Parents protest, she is not keen but he is smitten. He promises to adopt Sikhism and change for the better with a life outside Bihar. Ranjeet knew life after marriage was not going to be a fairy tale.
So how did the turnaround happen? First she put the brakes on the Yadav’s old life then she slowly reformed him. Pappu Yadav was very close to Lalu Prasad Yadav at one time. She made sure Pappu Yadav’s sidekicks were kept at bay as they would pull him into anti social activities. She weaned him away from his old ways by engaging him in social service. It was not easy as she had to make personal sacrifices. She set aside her sporting dreams and opted for a life in politics.
Pic courtsey: Rajasthan Patrika
She knew he was innocent and wrongly convicted in the criminal cases and campaigned hard for him while he served his jail term. The reformation was slow but steady.
Criminal records don’t go away so easily, but life moves on. They went on to have two children and continued to serve society through politics. He won Lok Sabha elections four times as he was well connected in the political circles.
How did the children react to the flak received by the father? The son had a tough time when he was made a butt of jokes by seniors whenever his father’s cases were covered by the newspapers. Ranjeet taught her children to be tough and fight back. She didn’t let the father reputation cast a shadow on her two children and made sure both had healthy self esteem. The family was greatly relieved when Pappu Yadav was acquitted in 2013. In 2015 he was recognized as the Best Performing MP. From once accused criminal to best performing MP, it is a long way and this admirable woman’s hand is behind it. For the children the mother is nothing less than an angel.
Pic courtsey: Rajasthan Patrika
So what does firebrand Ranjeet do when the buzz gets too much and she needs a breather? She takes off for an easy cruise on her bike. She bought her Harley Davidson with her own earnings and won’t let anyone touch it. She has been riding for a long while and goes for group rides whenever time permits. Her husband has to be happy with a pillion ride once in a while.
Makes you feel somewhat good to know that at least one lawmaker in our country is on the same wavelength as the bike riders. Here’s hoping that the bike riding bug will bite other MPs as well.