Guns and goons have played a key role in Bihar elections, and so has dynastic politics. The crime-politics nexus and dynastic politics has become an increasingly worrying phenomenon in recent times. Almost every political party has launched wives, sons and daughters of criminal-turned-politicians and their senior leaders even though they lacked political experience.

This time, too, the trigger-happy outlaws and musclemen, often called 'Bahubalis' in local parlance, are all set to cast their impact on the assembly polls courtesy their better halves. They figure in the first list of 20 candidates released by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The Janata Dal (U) has also distributed symbols to at least 40 candidates.

The musclemen-turned-politicians have found their way into mainstream politics either directly or through their spouses and kin. Some of them may or may not be contesting directly or indirectly, but their 'blessings' can swing the fortunes of candidates. The presence of their spouses and wards in the fray suggested that their writ still runs large at the hustings.

Despite the Election Commission’s best efforts to clean up the electoral system, the fact remains that fighting elections involve a lot of money and manpower. And, as winning elections is crucial, the political parties give probity a go-by and go for candidates who are flush with funds and muscle power.

The RJD has a major share of 'tainted' candidates while the Janata Dal (United) has tried to avoid leaders with shady background. Some of the tainted candidates face charges which are heinous in nature, including murder, kidnapping, extortion and loot.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has fielded wives of Bahubalis in the ensuing assembly elections and sons of old party veterans. The party has fielded Vibha Devi from Nawada Assembly seat. She is the wife of the infamous Rajvallabh Yadav, who has been convicted for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor girl. She had also contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on the RJD ticket but lost.

Rajvallabh’s membership of Bihar Assembly was terminated after his conviction in the recent rape and murder case. Going by the past records, he had been booked in over 17 serious cases earlier.

Similarly, Kiran Devi, wife of Arun Kumar Yadav, has been fielded from the Sandesh Assembly seat in Bhojpur district. Her husband is the sitting MLA and absconding for the last two years in a case of alleged kidnapping and rape of a minor girl. His property has been attached on the orders of the court.

Manorama Devi, fielded by RJD from Atri Assembly seat in Gaya district, is the wife of Bindi Yadav, who has been charged with murder of a youth.

The RJD has also asked former MP and muscleman Rama Singh, charged with murder and abduction, to field his wife from the Mahnar Assembly seat in Vaishali district. Rama Singh’s entry into the RJD was questioned by former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who passed away recently.

Led by Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, the RJD has also fielded children of some top party leaders in the ensuing elections. While Sudhakar Singh, son of former minister and state RJD president Jagadanand Singh, will contest from his father's bastion Ramgarh, sitting MLA Rahul Tiwary, son of party veteran Shivanand Tiwary, will fight from Shahpur constituency.

Similarly, Rishi Singh, son of former union minister Kanti Singh, will fight from Obra seat while Divya Kirti, daughter of former union minister Jayprakash Narayan Yadav, has been given party nomination from Tarapur seat. Jayprakash’s younger brother Vijay Prakash is the sitting MLA and will contest again this time.

The RJD is also likely to field candidates with criminal antecedents, including Lalit Kumar Yadav from Darbhanga Rural, Prahalad Yadav from Lakhisarai, Ramanand Yadav from Fatua and Surendra Prasad Yadav from Jehanabad. Surendra Yadav is known as 'Magadh Samrat' for his muscle power in the Maoist-affected Magadh division comprising Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Nawada and Arwal districts.

A notorious gangster of Danapur, Ritlal Yadav, who was elected to the legislative council as an independent candidate, is set to enter the electoral fray. His importance in the poll can be underlined from the fact that RJD chief Lalu Prasad had visited his house to seek support for his daughter in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Some of the aspiring candidates like Rajesh Kumar Raushan alias Bablu Dev (RJD) from Kesariya and Manoranjan Singh from Ekma were charged with more than 15 IPC sections related to murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Some other strongmen seeking nominations from BJP and others include Narendra Kumar Singh from Matihani, Leshi Singh from Dhamdaha and Poonam Devi, wife of strongman Ranbir Yadav. The sitting MLA of Chhatapur, Niraj Singh, and Anil Singh from Hisua are also facing serious charges.

Another incarcerated 'Bahubali' and former MP Anand Mohan’s wife Lovely Anand is set to contest from Sheohar as RJD nominee. Lovely Anand has fought 2014 Lok Sabha polls on Samajwadi ticket and 2009 Lok Sabha polls on Congress ticket from Sheohar parliamentary seat. Anand Mohan is in jail in connection with the 1994 Gopalganj DM G Krishnaiah murder case. The ruling JD(U) too has a fair share of promoting dynastic politics. The list includes Rahul Sharma, son of former MP Jagdish Sharma, and Sudarshan, the grandson of former MP Rajo Singh. Many Bahubalis such as Anant Singh and Sunil Pandey have been elected from the JD(U) in the past and wielded power and clout in their respective areas. The Bahubalis have been calling the shots in Bihar politics for long, even during the Congress regime when they won the polls by proxy and enjoyed the privileges of a legislator. Despite a slew of Supreme Court directives to cleanse the existing electoral system, Bihar has recorded 122 per cent rise in the number of candidates with criminal backgrounds joining the poll fray in the past decade, according to a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released in 2010.

Unfortunately, the mainstream parties are not averse to giving party tickets to them. The need of the hour is to bar all leaders, charge-sheeted by the police in any criminal case, from contesting elections.

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