Elections in Bihar have always been full of colours. Be it the gang-lords in the fray, top politicians sweating it out to ensure victory of their kin or the friends turning foes due to change in poll equations, they have always drawn attention of the national and international media and the prevailing poll scene is no exception.
However, one seat that has generated much interest is the Siwan from where the wives of two gang-lords are contesting elections. They include Heena Shahab, wife of jailed RJD politician Mohammad Shahabuddin and Kavita Singh, JD-U legislator and wife of gangster Ajay Singh.
That has happened mainly because both the ganglords themselves can’t contest elections for their conviction in criminal cases as serious as murder, kidnapping and extortion.
Siwan, a north-western LS constituency bordering Uttar Pradesh was once known as the “fiefdom” of Shahabuddin. The political clout he wielded in the areas is underlined from the fact that he represented the seat for the fourth time in a row—from 1996 to 2004. The whole scene changed when the NDA ousted the 15-year-old RJD regime after November 2005 assembly election and chief minister Nitish Kumar came to power.
The change in government saw speedy trial of the cases pending against Shahabuddin for long, and thus began his conviction in one after another cases, leaving him caged within the four walls. What though destroyed his political career was the life imprisonment handed out to him in a double murder case and the Supreme Court upholding the lower court judgment.
“We find no ground to interfere. The Special Leave Petitions are dismissed,” a three-member bench of the top court had said in October last year adding that the case was of grievous nature in which a person, who had witnessed the killing of his brother, was also shot dead. His life term meant he was finally disqualified from contesting any elections in future. Left with no option, Shahabuddin who is now lodged in the high security Tihar jail in Delhi has fielded his wife on RJD ticket apparently to rule by proxy. As such, Shahabuddin had fielded his wife in the last election too but she lost.
No less interesting is the story of another ganglord Ajay Singh fielding his legislator wife Kavita Singh from this seat. Siwan at presently is presently is represented by BJP leader Om Prakash Yadav in the Lok Sabha but now that this seat has gone to the JD-U’s share under the seat sharing arrangement, the latter has now given ticket to the wife of Ajay Singh who too enjoys political influence in the areas.
Moreover, his wife represents the Daraunda assembly which is part of the Siwan LS constituency.
The entry of Kavita Singh in the poll fray is no less interesting. As such, Jagmato Devi had been winning Daraunda assembly seat for long but post her death, her son Ajay Singh staked claim for this seat and demanded party ticket which the chief minister refused owing to his criminal antecedents.
The chief minister though suggested him to field his wife from this seat but the problem for him was that he was unmarried then. With the date of elections announced and time for nomination filing running out fast, Singh hurriedly inserted advertisements in the local daily looking for his bride with the condition that she must be a voter of that constituency.
Though many offers came, Singh ultimately settled for Kavita Singh and eventually married her during the Pitripaksh, considered the most inauspicious period for the Hindus, due to political urgency. It was only then that Singh could be able to keep the JD-U ticket and also the seat with his family.