It was while watching a match of lawn tennis at Delhi’s Siri Fort sports complex last year that Ranjeet Ranjan’s eyes welled up. “I have never loved anything more than tennis,” said the MP from Supaul, Bihar. She had once dreamt of winning the Grand Slam. An avid tennis player since school, Ranjan would practise for ten hours every day. She went on to represent Bihar, and Punjab.
Her marriage to politician Rajesh Ranjan, better known as Pappu Yadav, changed the course of her life. She is serving a second term in Parliament as a member of the Congress party. She had earlier represented Saharsa (2004-09) as a member of the Lok Janshakti Party.
“My father’s support was fundamental in my success. My racquet would need to be restrung every 8-10 days and it would cost us Rs 185 every time. My father would often pay me secretly for it, without the knowledge of my mother,” she says.
Discussing her inter-faith marriage, she recalls when her son was in kindergarten and complained that his friends teased him for having long hair. “He said that his father did not have long hair, why did he have to keep them so long. I had no answer to his question. I decided that I could not choose the religion for my son and told my husband to take him for a haircut,” she says.
A great admirer of Somnath Chatterjee, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Indira Gandhi, she laments the damaging loss of dignity in the Indian political discourse.