Marriage of crime and politics becomes an important issue before every election, but it chiefly remains a talking point, despite the election commission’s strict guidelines in the light of the Supreme Court order, which sought greater accountability from political parties to check the problem of criminalisation of politics.
Recent analysis by association for democratic reforms (ADR) and Bihar election watch (BEW) says that since 2005, out of 10,785 candidates to contest either Lok Sabha or assembly elections in Bihar, 3,230 (30%) declared criminal cases against themselves while 2,204 (20%) declared serious criminal cases against themselves. Such candidates are spread across all parties as well as independents.
Out of 820 MPs/MLAs analyzed since 2005, 469 (57%) have declared criminal cases against themselves and 295 (36%) have serious criminal cases. The study also shows a financial link, with assets going up for candidates having criminal or serious criminal cases.
In the forthcoming election, with the EC getting strict and the candidates and parties required to mandatorily publicise pending criminal cases through advertisements and explain reasons for fielding them, many of the bahubalis with serious criminal cases against them have now switched over to fielding proxies, which chiefly includes projecting their wives and procuring election tickets for them.
While the woman organisations have been consistently demanding greater representation for fairer sex, however, political analyst prof Nawal Kishore Choudhary says the trend of fielding wives will dilute the very purpose of fielding a woman candidate if the follow the diktats of their husbands, hide their misdeeds and if this arrangement becomes a new normal.
RJD seems to be leading the race this time, though other parties have also contributed to the trend. Incarcerated ‘bahubali’ Anand Mohan Singh is likely to file his nomination from Mokama, while his wife Neelam Devi has also filed her nomination from the same seat as an independent candidate, reportedly as a back-up in case her husband’s nomination runs into rough weather.
In 2015 also, Anant Singh, known as ‘Chote Sarkar’ or junior government due to his clout and lifestyle, had filed his nomination from jail as an independent candidate and won for the fourth time, with his wife doing all the campaigning for him. Earlier, he had fought on JD(U) ticket.
Rape convict former MLA Rajballav Yadav’s wife Vibha Devi has been given ticket by the RJD for Nawada seat. She had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Rajballav Yadav’s assembly membership had to be terminated after his conviction in the rape case.
Absconding sitting MLA Arun Kumar Yadav’s wife Kiran Devi has got an RJD ticket from Sandesh. Former MP and strongman Rama Singh, who faces cases of murder and abduction, is also likely to field his wife Meera Kumar from Mahnar seat in Vaishali. Rama Singh’s entry in the RJD fold had led to a revolt by former union minister late Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
Former MP Lovely Anand, wife of incarcerated Anand Mohan Singh, is likely to contest from Supaul on RJD ticket. She was earlier tipped for Sheohar, but the RJD has given the party symbol to her son Chetan Anand from there. Besides, several RJD candidates with criminal antecedents are again in the fray.
JD-U has also accommodated wives of strongmen. From Sandesh seat, ‘bahubali’ JD-U MLA Manoranjan Singh alias Dhumal Singh’s wife Sita Devi is in the fray, while another gangster Awadhesh Mandal’s wife Bima Bharti is contesting from Rupauli and Lesi Singh, wife of late Butan Singh, is fighting from Dhamdaha. Poonam Yadav, wife of strongman Ranbir Yadav, is contesting from Khagaria.
Muscleman Bindi Yadav’s wife Manorama Devi has got JD(U) ticket from Atri. JD-U has also fielded former Bihar minister Kumari Manju Verma, who had to resign from the cabinet after her name surfaced in the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal. She also had to go to jail.