Is Nitish Kumar wooing tainted politicians for polls?

July 15th, 2010 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Imran Khan
Patna, July 15 (IANS) He is widely seen as the man who brought good governance to Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s feelers to some notorious politicians ahead of assembly polls this year have, therefore, come as a surprise to many.

Among the tainted men he seems to be eyeing for support to his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) are controversial former central minister Mohammad Taslimuddin and jailed politicians Anand Mohan Singh and Mohammad Shahabuddin.

“Nitish Kumar will make a big mistake if he gives legitimacy to tainted and criminal politicians,” Aneesh Ankur, a theatre activist, told IANS.

People in Bihar point out that after taking his oath of office in 2005, Nitish Kumar had said good governance and a crime-free state would bring in development.

“It is unfortunate if Nitish Kumar is knocking on the doors of ‘bahubalis’ for consolidating his vote base in their strongholds. It is a bad sign for crime-free politics,” Ashok Singh, who owns a magazine shop in a commercial complex here, said. Bahubalis are politicians with a criminal record.

Elections to the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar are likely to be held in October-November.

Nitish Kumar visited the ancestral house of Anand Mohan in Panchgachia village in Saharsa district earlier this week to bless the latter’s newlywed niece. It was widely seen as an offer to the jailed leader to re-join the JD-U. He has a strong base among Rajputs in the Kosi river belt.

Sources in the JD-U said Anand Mohan’s wife Lovely Anand, a former MP, has been offered a senior party post, though this could not be confirmed officially.

The former MP is serving a life sentence for murdering a Bihar district magistrate in 1994. His wife was also convicted in the case but is out on bail. In May this year the Supreme Court dismissed his bail plea.

Earlier this month, Nitish Kumar also inducted Taslimuddin, a former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader, into the JD-U. Taslimuddin faces several criminal and corruption charges. He is believed to wield influence, especially among Muslims, in Kishanganj, Purnea and Araria districts, known as the Seemanchal belt.

Some leaders in the JD-U’s alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are reported to be upset over Taslimuddin’s induction into Nitish Kumar’s party.

A BJP leader, who did not want to be identified, told IANS: “It has caused widespread resentment among workers. The BJP has been consistently opposing him for over two decades.”

However, Bihar BJP president C.P. Thakur justified Taslimuddin’s induction into the JD-U saying the National Democratic Alliance is like the Ganga river and everyone gets purified after taking a dip into it.

Speculation is also rife that Nitish Kumar is in talks with Hina Sahab, the wife of jailed former MP Shahabuddin who enjoys support among Muslims and upper castes in Siwan and adjoining areas.

“Nitish Kumar has initiated a move to woo Shahabuddin and his wife Hina Sahab into the JD-U fold,” a source in the JD-U told IANS here. Sahab contested as an RJD candidate in the last Lok Sabha polls but was defeated.

Shahabuddin was convicted in 2007 of the charge of kidnapping and attempting to kill a Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) activist in 1999. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Shahabuddin was also convicted in 2006 for carrying out an armed raid on the CPI-ML office in 1998 and sentenced to a two-year jail term.

The JD-U also has other controversial politicians who are mired in criminal cases such as Sunil Pandey, a legislator who is in jail for kidnapping; and Dhumal Singh who is wanted in several states but is out on bail.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at imran.k@ians.in)

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