The Shahabuddin Effect

Nitish Kumar had every week’s time to show his majority, however Laloo Yadav made full use of Siwan don Mohammad Shahabuddin (who died of COVID-19 on Saturday, May 1, 2021).
A revealing excerpt from Rajesh Singh’s Baahubalis Of Indian Politics: From Bullet To Ballot.

IMAGE: Former Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammad Shahabuddin died of COVID-19 at Delhi’s DDU Hospital on Saturday, May 1, 2021.


Most individuals could be sobered up after spending time behind bars, however Mohammad Shahabuddin was removed from subdued when he walked out on bail in September 2016, from a Bhagalpur jail, after being inside for over a decade.

Bihar then had a coalition authorities during which Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal have been companions.

Hundreds of automobiles — some studies pegged the quantity at over 300, whereas others stated it was greater than 1,000 — fashioned an enormous cavalcade that greeted the don and took him alongside the streets.

Cocking a snook on the chief minister, Shahabuddin stated that Nitish Kumar was a chief minister of circumstance, and that Lalu Prasad Yadav was his chief.

The ‘circumstantial’ jibe was hurtful, echoing Lalu’s oft-quoted comment that it was as a consequence of his magnanimity that Nitish Kumar was heading the coalition regime, else there was no cause why his get together, which had the larger quantity within the meeting, couldn’t have had its man within the submit.

Saheb (Shahabuddin) admitted that the extended interval in jail had politically harmed him — ‘a little bit harm has occurred’. He was presumably referring to the electoral reverse his spouse Hena Shahab had suffered; she had misplaced to Om Prakash Yadav within the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Referring to senior Bharatiya Janata Party chief Sushil Kumar Modi’s allegation that the RJD-JD-U alliance had paved the way in which for his launch on bail, Shahabuddin pithily stated, ‘There is not any have to take Sushil Modi severely.’

But the judiciary couldn’t be equally brushed apart; it needed to be taken very severely.

In July 2006, a classes decide, attempting among the circumstances allegedly involving Shahabuddin, was supplied allurements by a lawyer thought of near the strongman.

When that did not work, the tried and examined technique of threats was put in movement.

The matter was delivered to the discover of the Patna excessive court docket, which directed that costs be registered in opposition to the lawyer for the offences he had dedicated.

The lawyer allegedly threatened to get rid of the decide if his verdicts did not rescue the don. The considerably shaken however nonetheless resolute decide knowledgeable his superior, and the 2 then briefed a senior police officer of Siwan.

The threatened decide additionally knowledgeable the Patna excessive court docket by way of the state’s advocate normal. The decide and his senior had been appointed by the excessive court docket to go two particular courts inside Siwan jail for fast trial of the circumstances in opposition to the Saheb of the area.


IMAGE: Shahabuddin’s supporters thronged Bhagalpur jail to have a good time his launch. Photograph: M I Khan

Saheb’s political clout was undoubtedly derived out of patronage from the best ranges. Even the senior-most police officers have been thus cautious of appearing in opposition to him. D P Ojha was completely different. As director normal of the Bihar police throughout Rabri Devi’s rule as chief minister in 2003, he did the unthinkable, executing the don’s pending arrest order in one of many circumstances of kidnapping and homicide.

Chief Minister Rabri Devi was furious at not being consulted. Lalu Prasad, who was not in Patna, referred to as up Ojha, asking him to clarify the matter to Rabri Devi.

When Ojha met the CM, she appeared agitated and requested thrice why she had not been not consulted. The DGP had misplaced his endurance by then and stated, ‘It is the DGP or senior cops’ prerogative to resolve whom to arrest.’

Ojha advised Rabri Devi in clear phrases that he wouldn’t search the CM’s permission in such issues even in future.

The cause for such safety was, after all, political in nature. Back in 2000, when Nitish Kumar was to rearrange the numbers to let his regime survive — he had every week’s time to show his majority — the RJD made full use of the Siwan don.

What adopted was a tasty smash-and-grab drama… It was every week that lawmakers pawned to outlaws.


IMAGE: Mohammad Shahabuddin, far proper, then a Rashtriya Janata Dal MP, feeds sweets to RJD chief Lalu Yadav.

While Lalu loyalist Mohammad Shahabuddin, most likely essentially the most feared and influential underworld creature of the day, held the gun, actually, to the heads of eight Congress MLAs within the musty luxurious of Patna’s state-owned Patliputra Hotel, Lalu, out of jail on bail, burned the cellphone traces to Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel.

He stated: Save Bihar from being taken over by communal forces; assist me, assist Rabri; you persons are most welcome to hitch the federal government; identify your worth however do not let secular forces down.

For a greater a part of the week, Shahabuddin prowled the Patliputra Hotel foyer, a gun bulging out from his proper trouser pocket.

His popularity for capturing sharp was well-established; it was additionally identified that the person wasn’t keen on hesitating on the set off. His factotums have been watched by dozens of Lalu’s personal MLAs whose loyalty was suspect.

Author Arun Sinha reproduces in his ebook the account of a journalist (Arun Srivastava) who was on the resort. ‘I walked in and located Shahabuddin sitting relaxed in a chair wearing a vest and lungi. He knew who I used to be and requested me to take a seat down.

‘What’s up?’ I requested in a half-knowing, half-cajoling voice.

‘Anything to cease Nitish grabbing energy,’ he stated matter-of-factly.

I got here out and hung across the place for a while and noticed glimpses of the MLAs in his captivity.

Saw Ram Jatan Sinha and Jagdish Sharma (impartial). Most of the Congress MLAs have been tribals. Suddenly I seen Jagdish Sharma and some different MLAs strolling down a hall and in a flash, Shahabuddin, a cocked gun in every hand, and his gang members, rushed to cease and herd them again into their rooms.

‘Don’t attempt that once more,’ Shahabuddin warned them.


IMAGE: Former RJD MP Shahabuddin beneath tight safety on the New Delhi railway station earlier than he was shifted to Tihar jail, February 19, 2017. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

But whereas Lalu Prasad Yadav, with the assistance of musclemen like Shahabuddin, was busy in terminating Nitish Kumar’s regime, the chief minister himself gave the impression to be uncertain of how he should counter the trouble.

Arun Srivastava relates, ‘I went to the meeting the place I discovered Nitish in his chamber. I advised him what I had seen at Hotel Patliputra and requested him if he shouldn’t be asking the police chief to raid the place and free the captive MLAs.

Nitish stated, “Saryu Rai (state BJP leader) is handling that part.” I used to be astonished by Nitish’s response. I believe his delicate strategy was what pulled him down.’

The chief minister was frightened about having his picture tainted. ‘Nitish, squeamish about using robust arm, was ready to dip his toe into the cesspool of realpolitik however averse to sullying his virgin kurta.

He needed energy, however to not get his palms soiled. There have been many criminals who gained as Independent candidates, he was advised, they usually have been able to lend him assist.

Meet them, his camp pleaded, make them a proposal and the gaddi will likely be yours to maintain.

There was Suraj Bhan from Mokjma, Sunil Pander Piro, Dhumal of Baniapur, Rajan Tiwari, Rama Singh and Munna Shukla.

Between them, that they had ticked off all of the trophy violations within the Criminal Procedure Code: Murder, try and homicide, abduction, loot, theft, unlawful confinement, intimidation, embezzlement, trespass.’

Finally, an association was agreed upon. Senior BJP chief Kailashpati Mishra was tasked with connecting with the dons cooling their heels in jail. He went inside Beur Jail to solicit assist with some types of guarantees.


Nitish Kumar needed their assist, however didn’t wish to be seen with them. He sat cowering within the chief minister’s chamber, within the seat that he had so lengthy aspired for and at last achieved.

He despatched phrase that he didn’t wish to meet the jailbirds, not within the public eye at any fee. But the jailbirds had different concepts, and earlier than the poor chief minister might do something, that they had barged in, and acquired themselves photographed with him, all of the whereas shouting, ‘Nitish Kumar zindabad!’ The visible was splashed throughout within the media within the following days.

However, in the long run, the compromises Nitish Kumar had reluctantly made didn’t work; he didn’t muster a majority and, seeing the writing on the wall, stop with out dealing with a flooring take a look at.

‘Rather than taking place as a loser in a vote, it will be extra honourable for him to submit his resignation. That could be an acceptance of defeat—with the humiliation of being outvoted.’

15baahubalis indian politics

But the bitter reality was much less about retaining honour. ‘The fact was Nitish had not been outvoted however outmanoeuvred. There have been no signifies that he didn’t use that Lalu had; muscle, cash, inducement techniques. But Lalu simply appeared to have extra of the whole lot.

Lalu’s superiority may very well be attributed to his expertise and to his angle in direction of politics that was 90 per cent realpolitik and 10 per cent morality.

Nitish’s angle was simply the reverse. Nitish was an novice, having determined to make use of thugs to defeat Lalu’s thugs in sure constituencies for the primary time.

He wouldn’t know the best way to use individuals like Sunil Pandey or Suraj Bhan as Lalu did Shahabuddin. Nor would he have preferred to.’

In the months to return, although, Nitish Kumar was to change into more adept in issues of political survival.

There was a time when Siwan was remembered because the birthplace of freedom fighter and impartial India’s first president, Rajendra Prasad. Today, point out ‘Siwan’ and the identify that involves thoughts is the infamous Mohammad Shahabuddin.

Excerpted from Baahubalis Of Indian Politics: From Bullet To Ballot by Rajesh Singh, with the sort permission of the publishers, Rupa Publications India Pvt Ltd.

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