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After Being ‘Useful’ to Nitish and Lalu for Years, Luck Runs Out for Bihar Big Gun Anant Singh

The gangster-turned-politician, who ran wild even after the state’s ‘jungle raj’ officially ended, is finally being tamed months after he fielded his wife as a Congress candidate in a Lok Sabha battle against the JD(U)

Ashok Mishra |

Updated:August 29, 2019, 11:59 PM IST
After Being ‘Useful’ to Nitish and Lalu for Years, Luck Runs Out for Bihar Big Gun Anant Singh
File photo of Bihar MLA Anant Singh.

Patna: Anant Singh has made history, but of the unenviable kind. Known as Chhote Sarkaar in Bihar, the gangster-turned-politician is the first person to be booked by authorities under the newly strengthened Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act (UAPA). His supporters claim the independent MLA from Mokama has become a fall guy for Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar after the legislator fielded his wife from the Munger Lok Sabha seat as Congress nominee against the Janata Dal (United) pick Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh.

Though Anant’s wife Neelam Singh lost the election by a massive margin, associates say the bitterness created during the polls appears to have cost Anant dearly. Bihar police booked him under sections of the UAPA following the recovery of an AK-47 rifle, 22 live cartridges and grenades from his ancestral house.

Amendments to the UAPA were ratified in the monsoon session of Parliament this month. Singh, who surrendered in a Delhi court on August 23, has accused senior JD(U) leaders of implicating him in fabricated cases in a bid to settle political scores.

His claim may not find many takers as the charges against him are serious, but the legal action against him has turned into an issue of discord between the Nitish Kumar government and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which has come forward to vehemently defend this gangster-politician.

Interestingly, Anant was the favourite whipping boy of the RJD during the 2015 state assembly elections when Nitish had deserted the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav. Anant was jailed in connection with the killing of a Yadav youth and abduction of a farmer. Some cases pending against him since long were also opened to keep him behind bars.

It would be premature to predict the political fallout of the legal action against Anant Singh in the 2020 state assembly elections, but it certainly points to the penchant of veteran politicians to use criminals as per their convenience and throw them out when they are not required or become a burden.

Anant is called Chhote Sarkaar, in the same vein as the dreaded dacoits of the forests of Champaran in Bihar claimed to run the so-called Jungle Sarkaar between the 1980s and 90s. Anant has wielded enormous political clout due to his muscle and money power and has carved out a political space for himself.

In fact, both Lalu’s RJD and Nitish’s JD(U) have made good use of Anant and his elder brothers to serve their political interests over the past three decades. Lalu made Dilip Singh, Anant Singh’s elder brother, a minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet and used him against Nitish Kumar in the erstwhile Barh parliamentary seat.

After Dilip’s death, Nitish wooed Anant to his side and gave him a party ticket twice from the Mokama assembly seat. He also used Anant to manage crowds at his political rallies to show his strength.

Despite being named in several serious criminal cases, Anant was never arrested during 10 years of Nitish Kumar’s rule. He was not booked for opening a mall in complete disregard of Patna high court orders, for disrespecting the-then cabinet minister Parveen Amanullah, and even for threatening former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi with dire consequences.

Anant Singh lost his utility after Nitish’s alliance with Lalu ahead of the 2015 Bihar assembly polls. Purportedly under pressure from the RJD chief, Anant was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of one Putush Yadav. After his arrest, the old criminal cases against him including those of murder and kidnapping were also reopened.

In protest, Anant resigned from the JD(U), accusing the party leadership of implicating him in cases for political reasons. There were furious outbursts by certain Bhumihar caste leaders of the NDA like former MP Arun Kumar following the arrest.

Both Lalu and Nitish used the police action against Anant and subsequent outcry from some leaders of the NDA as a political tool to consolidate the backward caste votes, especially the Yadavs, observers say.

This is not the first time that criminal-turned-politicians have been wooed by lawmakers for political gains and subsequently discarded. Don Mohammad Shahabuddin entered politics, prompted by Lalu Prasad Yadav, as a member of the Janata Dal’s youth wing. His stature grew over the years after he won the 1996 Lok Sabha polls for the first time as an RJD candidate.

Lalu was accused of shielding Shahabuddin in legal cases and police often turned a blind eye to his illicit activities. His clout and the fear he provoked can be gauged from the fact that no one mustered the courage to stand up against him in Siwan, which became his fiefdom. But Lalu could not provide much help to Shahabuddin when he faced the heat in certain cases.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan too has done his share of promoting gangster-turned-politicians, observers say. He patronised dons like Surajbhan Singh and Rama Kishore Singh, both of whom had become MPs, from Barh and Vaishali parliamentary constituencies, respectively. In fact, his party is known as the ‘party of brothers and dons’ as all the Lok Sabha seats it won were once represented by his brothers and mobster-politicians.

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