Patna: The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput is taking a political colour in poll-bound Bihar, with a number of political parties backing his family’s demand for a CBI probe into his suicide.
The popular actor, who was from Bihar capital Patna, died on 14 June. The state is still mourning his death. There is anger also among the people, and some groups even burnt the effigies of actor Salman Khan and producer-director Karan Johar last week, alleging Sushant was “harassed” by the influential in Bollywood.
Speaking to ThePrint, Sushant’s maternal uncle R.C. Singh said the family does not trust the Maharashtra government and hence wants a CBI probe.
The demand has been backed by Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Chirag Paswan, who has written to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar urging him to ensure the central agency probes the actor’s death. Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav has also come out in support of the family.
BJP spokesperson Rajni Ranjan Patel said his party has not demanded a CBI inquiry, “but we want the matter thoroughly probed”. “It is a great loss for Bihar,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had visited Sushant’s family to personally offer condolences. The LJP also held a meeting demanding that his last film should be made tax free in Bihar.
The actor belonged to a family that has political ties. His cousin, the JDU-turned-BJP MLA Neeraj Kumar Bablu, has been representing the Chhatapur constituency in Saharsa district since 2005.
His family said Sushant too harboured political ambitions. “He had the background,” Bablu told ThePrint. “Our family is spread out in bureaucracy, politics and business. Last year, when he came to attend a family function in Bihar, he told me that he would go big in the state after this year.”
Bablu said the family would decide on the next course of action after the actor’s last rites are performed. The BJP MLA also said the condolences received by the family cut across all sections and regions. “It shows the potential Sushant had in Bihar politics had he chosen to enter it,” he added.
Death also takes a caste turn
It isn’t just the family and politicians demanding the CBI probe. Members of the Karni Sena have also taken to the streets calling for the central agency to investigate the death.
The Karni Sena represents the Rajputs in the state, the community that Sushant Singh belonged to.
The actor, however, was a pan-Bihar icon, particularly among the youth. “One just had to see the crowd that had assembled near Kargil Chowk (in Patna) to pay tribute to him on 16 June to know his popularity among the younger generation,” said BJP MLA Gyanendra Singh Gyanu.
In 2017, Sushant had even dropped ‘Rajput’ from his name on Twitter after filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped and heckled by members of Karni Sena on the sets of Padmavat in Jaipur over alleged “distortion of history”.
His death has, however, still become a rallying cry for the state’s Rajputs.
“The late actor may not have thought in caste terms but after his death, the CBI probe demands and the mourning are all an attempt to woo his powerful caste,” conceded a BJP leader.
The Rajputs, along with the Bhumihar community, are considered the most vocal and aggressive sections of upper castes in Bihar. Of the 243 MLAs in the Bihar assembly, 19 are Rajputs. And there are around 40 more assembly segments where the community plays a decisive role.
As such, every political party in the state, including the RJD, has made efforts to woo the community. In fact, RJD chief Jagdanand Singh is a Rajput. However, since 2005, the Rajputs have mainly backed the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).