Patna: Left red-faced after its Begusarai candidate Kanhaiya Kumar backed controversial MP Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, for the Madhepura parliamentary seat, the CPI Monday termed the entire episode as a “misunderstanding”.
“We can never support Pappu Yadav,” the CPI’s Bihar secretary Satyanaran Singh told ThePrint Monday.
“A group of Pappu Yadav supporters invited Kanhaiya Kumar to speak. Kanhaiya went and made a speech that was made viral by Pappu’s supporters. Kanhaiya has explained his stand to the party.”
CPI leaders, however, privately admit that the statements made by Kanhaiya, the former JNU student union president, five days ago, have caused considerable embarrassment to the party.
“It dents the image of both the party and Kanhaiya that we do not support any candidate with a criminal background,” said another CPI leader, adding that the party has been engaged in fire fighting the row.
It isn’t just about supporting a candidate with criminal antecedents, the Left has a blighted history with strongmen in Bihar such as Pappu Yadav and former MP Md Shahabuddin. It is widely believed that the rise of the Left in Bihar was stifled by these strongmen who targeted prominent Left leaders and workers in a wave of violence in the ’90s.
The ghosts of the 1990s
The Left’s run-ins with Pappu Yadav began in the 1990s, when one of its most charismatic leaders, Ajit Sarkar of the CPI(M), took on local landlords in the area. Sarkar was the Purnea MLA who ran a campaign against land grabbing in the area.
Pappu Yadav, then an Independent MLA who unleashed terror in Purnea and its adjoining districts, was backed by the landlords against Sarkar.
Such was the enmity between the two that when the RJD fielded Pappu Yadav, under the alliance it had with the Left parties in 1996, in the Purnea Lok Sabha seat, Sarkar campaigned for the Congress candidate.
In 1998, Sarkar was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Purnea. Pappu Yadav was the main accused in the murder and was convicted by a lower court. He was, however, acquitted by the Patna High Court due to a lack of evidence in 2013. An appeal against the acquittal is still pending in the Supreme Court.
“How can the CPI support a person who is acknowledged as the murderer of one of the most charismatic Left leaders in the state?” asked a CPI leader.
The murder case nearly finished Pappu Yadav’s political career but it was resurrected by RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who gave him the Lok Sabha ticket from Madhepura in 2014.
These days, however, Pappu Yadav runs the political outfit Jantantrik Adhikar Party(JAP), but his bid to be a part of the opposition grand alliance has been stalled by the Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav. Since then, Pappu Yadav has made it clear that he will contest as an Independent from Madhepura.
Also read: Why Nitish & Lalu could pay a heavy price for Bihar coalition politics in Lok Sabha polls
Not the Left’s only grouse
If politics of violence of the ’90s haunts the CPI, another Left outfit, the CPI(ML), has borne the brunt of it. Now, it is looking to make amends.
The CPI(ML) is the only Left outfit in the opposition grand alliance — the RJD has left the Ara seat for it — but there is another constituency where it has brushed aside coalition compulsion and where a victory will have a very symbolic meaning.
The CPI(ML) is set to field a candidate in Siwan who will be pitted against the RJD’s Heena Shahab, the wife of mafia don-turned-politician Mohd Shahabuddin, who is currently in Tihar jail convicted in half a dozen cases, including murder and kidnapping.
In the ’90s, Shahabuddin had a running battle with the CPI(ML) for the same reason — land — and was believed to be behind the death of several party workers.
Among them was the former two-time JNU student union president, Chandrashekhar or Chandu to his friends, who was gunned down in Siwan while addressing a public meeting on 31 March 1997.
Although Shahabuddin was never directly charged for the murder, there was little doubt in Siwan that it was carried out at his behest.
“There is no way we can either support or leave Siwan for Shahabuddin’s wife after waging a battle against him for over two decades,” said a CPI(ML) leader. “It amounts to the betrayal of our cadre who have been at the receiving end of the terror unleashed by Shahabuddin and his goons.”
Also read: Why Kanhaiya Kumar is a symbol of status quo in Begusarai, the Leningrad of Bihar
It’s not expected from Kanhaiya Kumar. He should be very careful about this type incident. At least he should consult with the state leadership of CPI, Bihar. His action will send wrong message to the people who support him.
It is difficult to imagine the firebrand Tukde Tukde spokesman to be so naive to realise the implications of supporting openly a strongman who is a criminal in the eyes of law and a dreaded enemy of the common people. All in Bihar are aware of the persons behind the dreaded gangster and a scholar-cum-anti-national leader of JNU coming from the same state cannot feign ignorance of the realities. This speaks volumes of the party fielding him as well as his own philosophy of democratic rules in a parliamentary system. Of course, his style is certainly bound by his Tukde Tukde mindset too
Comments are closed.