Bahubalis (strongmen) or criminals entering politics is not new in the country, especially Bihar for last few decades setting the ignominious trend of muscle and money power in winning polls.
Now, in the 2019 parliamentary polls, all major political parties seem to be betting more on giving tickets to wives of strongmen or tainted lawmakers to suit their own political interests and encouraging the trend of proxy rule by powerful men, who do not have clean credentials.
Veebha Devi, who is wife RJD’s former MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav, is one such nominee. She is contesting from Nawada parliamentary seat. Her husband is serving life imprisonment in a rape case of a minor girl. Yadav had to lose his membership after his conviction in the case.
Insiders in the RJD attribute the reason behind Devi’s selection in the wake of her husband’s clout among Yadavs coupled with his bahubali image in the high stake constituency.
“Raj Ballabh holds clout in the Nawada area as a strongman and this is a reason perhaps why RJD gave ticket to his wife to woo party’s base voters and improve its chances of winning,” said a RJD functionary.
Incidentally, Devi would be facing her main challenge from Lok Janshakti Party’s woman nominee and sitting MP of Munger, Veena Devi, who also happens to be the wife of heavyweight former MP Surajbhan Singh. Singh’s has been convicted in a murder case and debarred from contesting polls.
Coming next, there are speculations that criminal-turned-politician Anant Singh is all set to field his wife Neelam Devi from Munger parliamentary seat as a Congress candidate. An official announcement has not been made yet. Till recently, there were reports that Singh, an MLA, was keen to contest from the Munger seat. But the strongman apparently changed his mind owing to stiff opposition from the RJD camp. The RJD is said to be still cut up with Singh for the latter’s outburst against party chief Lalu Prasad a few years back.
“If Anant fields his wife, it is because of political considerations as it would not lead to opposition from the RJD. But, he would be the face in the constituency during the poll campaign,” said a senior Grand Alliance leader.
In Siwan, considered the badlands of Bihar, it is a similar story. This time, the ruling Janata Dal (United) has chosen sitting MLA from Darounda, Kavita Kumar as its nominee from Siwan parliamentary seat. Kavita Kumari, is wife of strongman of the area Ajy Kumar Singh, who faces several criminal cases.
Kumari’s main rival could be Hina Shahab, who is wife of incarcerated strongman Mohammed Shahabbudin. Hina, having contested parliamentary polls in 2009 and 2014, is expected to be made RJD’s nominee this time also.
Evidently, giving tickets to wives of dons-turned-politicians has become more pronounced in all major parties. D M Diwakar, former director of A N Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, however, observed that the trend should be seen in perspective. He argued that it was wrong to presume that a wife of tainted lawmaker or former legislator would be also having a tainted record.
Second, he also reasons that women entering the poll fray are a healthy sign signaling pressure on political parties to give more representation to women amid the ongoing demand from women bodies to give 33% reservation to women in parliament and legislature. “But, the trend of giving tickets to women who are mere props of their powerful husbands by ignoring genuine women political workers in parties is worrisome,” Diwakar said. He added the culture of giving tickets to wives of strongmen is just an extension of the existing practice in three tier rural local bodies or panchayats where male candidates usually push their wives in the poll ring to contest from reserved posts of women to rule by proxy.
HIGHLIGHTS: WIVES of Don -politicians in race for 2019 parliamentary polls
# Veebha Devi, RJD candidate from Nawada parliamentary seat, is wife of RJD’s former MLA and strongman Raj Ballabh Yadav. Yadav has been convicted in a rape case.
# Veena Devi, LJP’s nominee from Nawada seat, is wife of former MP and strongman Suraj Bhan. Veena Devi is sitting MP from Munger .
# Neelam Devi, wife of Mokama MLA and strongman Anant Singh, is likely to contest from Munger parliamentary seat on a Congress ticket.
# Kavita Kumari, JD(U) nominee from Siwan parliamentary seat, is wife of strongman Ajay Kumar Singh. Kumari is a sitting MLA.
# Hina Shahab, wife of Siwan strongman Mohammed Shahabuddin, is likely to be RJD’s candidate from the Siwan parliamentary seat. Shahab had unsuccessfully contested in 2009 and 2014 parliamentary polls.
Mar 24, 2019 08:51 IST