When Trinamool Congress fielded candidates in 47 of the 60 seats in the 2012 Manipur polls, some people thought the party was over ambitious. But the party proved them wrong by winning seven seats to emerge as the second largest party after the Congress.
Kim Gangte, the Manipur unit president of the party, was then largely credited with the success. But Kim had attributed the success to party president and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. She had predicted that Trinamool would do well since "Didi looks like a tribal".
In the upcoming general election, the Trinamool wants to ride on the 'tribal Mamata' bandwagon. Manipur has two Lok Sabha seats. The party has fielded Kim from Outer Manipur; the seat, reserved for scheduled tribe category, will go to polls on April 9. Kim is up against Thangso Baite of the Congress and Soso Lorho of Naga People's Front among others. The party is not contesting from the Inner Manipur seat.
"The Trinamool under didi is growing rapidly in most parts of the country. Manipur is no exception," said Kim. She claimed the people were clamouring for a change and they believed the change can come through Trinamool.
A former Lok Sabha MP, 52-year-old Kim was born in Churachandpur district of the state and is the eldest of her seven siblings. Prior to joining politics, she worked as an English lecturer at the Spicer Memorial College, Pune and in the State Council of Education and Research Training Centre in Imphal. She enjoys meditation, gardening and cooking and has all along been a social worker.
She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 but her stint was short-lived following the fall of the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government in a no-confidence motion. She contested the 1999 parliamentary elections as a JD(U) candidate but lost.
"I have worked with people at the grassroots level all along. The people are attached to me as I am to them. So, I can feel their pulse," said the unmarried Kim about her prospects.
She castigated the sitting MP for doing little to ensure the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the state and safety of women. "Women in Manipur are being increasingly discriminated against and targeted. If I win, I will work to ensure their safety. I'll also work for their empowerment."