Patna: While the RJD-led grand alliance is yet to formally announce seat allocations for its members, a notorious gangster-turned-politician Anant Singh has decided to contest Lok Sabha elections as Congress nominee from Munger constituency, straining the ties between the two allies.
Mr Singh gave the hint during his massive roadshow from Patna to Munger last Friday. Interestingly, the Congress which has been trying to increase its voter base in Bihar has not ruled out either the possibility of fielding Anant Singh as its candidate in the 2019 general elections.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, however, has been clear in his stand over the issue. While speaking earlier, he had said that his party would not accommodate “bad elements like him” in the grand alliance.
Anant Singh, popularly known as “Chotey Sarkar” by his supporters, had contested and won 2005 and 2010 Assembly elections as a JD(U) nominee. He, however, parted his ways with chief minister Nitish Kumar in September 2015 after JD(U) got into an alliance with RJD in Bihar.
Police record suggests that Anant Singh has around 20 criminal cases pending against him, including murder, kidnapping, and possession of illegal arms. In June 2015, Anant Singh’s residences in Mokama and Patna were raided in connection with a case related to kidnapping and murder. He was later arrested and sent to jail.
He contested the 2015 Assembly elections from behind bars and was granted bail in 2016.
After declaring himself a Congress nominee recently, he was heard accusing Nitish Kumar of “using and throwing” him while praising RJD chief Lalu Yadav and calling him “the only mass leader in Bihar”.
According to political analysts here, Munger became a high-profile constituency after Nitish Kumar’s closest aide and Bihar water resources minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lalan Singh, showed interest in contesting from the seat. NDA insiders do not deny either the chances of Munger seat going to the JD(U) during the seat-sharing agreement.
In 2014, Veena Singh, wife of strongman Surajbhan Singh had won Munger Lok Sabha seat as LJP candidate.
“There was time when Anant Singh used to roam around with guns but he won’t be able to do it anymore because rule of law exists in Bihar. He was sent behind bars earlier and if he tries to create disturbances again, the state government is prepared to take action against him,” JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said.
Sources said that the Congress has also asked Anant Singh to bring a crowd for the February 3 rally which is likely to be attended by party president Rahul Gandhi.
Experts are of the opinion that political parties have been relying on history sheeters during polls. In 80s, Congress party had backed dons like Kali Pandey and Nagina Rai and in 90s, it was RJD chief Lalu Yadav who used notorious gangster like Mohammad Shahabuddin to increase his voter base and win elections in Bihar.
According to a political analyst, “Bihar has been a haven for criminal-politicians. Right from the 70s till date, political parties have been using them to win elections. These elements are also helpful in bringing in huge crowds during political rallies in the state.”
Bihar Election Watch (BEW), a wing of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), in 2018 had released data and revealed that most of the parties ,especially the BJP, JD(U) and the RJD, fielded candidates with criminal records between 2004 and 2014.
According to data analysis report available with this newspaper, there has been an increase of 122 per cent in the number of candidates with declared criminal cases who contested Lok Sabha elections from 2004 to 2014.
The ADR data analysis also reveals that 184 candidates in fray for Lok Sabha elections in 2014 had criminal cases against them. BEW also claimed that it found an increase of 87 per cent in the number of elected MPs with declared criminal cases during the period.
Almost all RJD candidates with declared criminal cases had contested the 2014 general elections. BJP had fielded 64 per cent candidates with criminal cases and the JD(U) with 50 per cent of candidates with cases pending against them.
The Congress which is part of Mahagathbandhan in Bihar is also not lagging behind with 11 of the 27 MLAs have serious criminal cases against them.
Similarly in 2010, 39 MLAs of the JD(U) had declared serious criminal cases against them followed by the BJP with 23 MLAs.