Will mahagathbandhan benefit from Anand Mohan’s release?
While his release is being praised by several communities, many others, including the IAS bodies, have opposed the decision, including the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan, serving a life term in prison for the murder of district magistrate G Krishnaiah in 1994, walked out of Bihar’s Saharsa jail on Thursday days after chief minister Nitish Kumar-led dispensation amended the Bihar Prison Manual, 2012.
However, the decision to release Mohan is being viewed from different angles as he is likely to join the Rashtra Janata Dal (RJD), a party founded by former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, his rival.
While his release is being praised by several communities, however, many others, including the IAS bodies, have opposed the decision, including the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The question here is how much will the grand alliance be benefited or harmed by the ‘R’ (Rajput) factor.
“Obviously, the release of Mohan has been done with an eye on elections. After the death of Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Narendra Singh, there was a vacuum of Rajput leaders in the RJD. Jagdanand Singh has not been able to win the support of his community. In such a situation, Anand Mohan can fill in the gap,” said D M Diwakar, social scientist and former director of A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies.
However, he warned that the move could also face a backlash from the and his release is being opposed by the IAS bodies and the Dalit community is questioning the government’s decision.
“The former MP still has respect, especially among youths who are unaware of his past. He is counted as an outspoken leader and had been known for his oratory skills,” said a leader from Madhepura.
A political observer based in Madhepura, Pradeep Kumar Jha, doesn’t see any major impact of Anand Mohan. “His influence over the people especially over the Rajput community has shrunk during his 16-year-jail period and at a time when people irrespective of their castes look sharply divided over the Central and State politics. Rajput community constitutes below 10% of voters in Kosi and Seemanchal,” he said.
He added, “Even his organisation and ‘friends of Anand’, once very active in these two regions, have almost been moribund and it is not easy now to revive them as several Rajput leaders have emerged during his absence.”
A senior RJD leader also doesn’t see any big gain for the RJD. “Once a right hand of Anand Mohan, BJP MLA and former minister Neeraj Singh Babloo has emerged as a Rajput leader in Kosi and now it is not easy for Anand Mohan to dislodge him,” admitted the RJD leader.
In 1990, Mohan contested and won the assembly elections from Mahishi in Saharsa on a Janata Dal ticket. In 1993, he formed Bihar People’s Party and in 1996, he became a Lok Sabha MP with the help of the BJP from Seohar. In 1998, he became a Lok Sabha MP and in 1999, he from an RJD candidate. In the latest in 2020, his son Chetan Anand fought and won the Sheohar seat on an RJD ticket.
Acceptance in other castes
It is being said that Mohan has wide acceptability among other upper castes, including Bhumihars, following his popularity with the upper caste after he defeated Lalu Prasad’s party in Vaishali in 1994 and bonded the Bhumihar and Rajput communities.
A general perception among RJD and Janata Dal (United) [JDU] leaders is that Mohan would help in polarization in Seemanchal and Kosi regions. “The JD(U) has been banking on BJP votes in Kosi region. Now with Rajputs solidly behind BJP, JD(U) is looking forward towards Mohan,” said a JD(U) leader.
However, the people of Madhepura are not ready to accept this belief. “Gone are the days and people do not want to relive the era of the 1990s. The people rejected Pappu Yadav and they will do so with Mohan as well. Moreover, it would be interesting to see if Yadav gel with Rajputs,” said Anand Mandal of Muroh (Madhepura), the birthplace of B P Mandal of Mandal Commission, who belonged to a Yadav family from Madhepura.
Impact on Lok Sabha seats
The Rajput community form about 5.2% of Bihar’s population. Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, Rajputs votes play a decisive role at least on eight seats. There are 3-4 lakh Rajput class voters here and 28 Lok Sabha constituencies, where the Rajput population is more than 1 lakh.
In the 90s, when caste war came to the fore and when Mandal politics was at its peak, Mohan emerged as the leader of the upper castes.
Amitesh Kumar, another political observer of Kosi region opines, “The release of Mohan will slightly impact on 10 Lok Sabha seats and 35 assembly seats in Bihar where Rajput voters hold some sway.”
He, however, claimed that Mohan can no longer remain with one party or under subjugation. “The man who came up in politics against a certain community (Yadav) can hardly be accepted by people. The days are not far away when Anand Mohan will make his own party or revive his old party Bihar People’s Party when he will be free for negotiation with anyone,” Kumar added.
Meanwhile, after his release, the BJP which is feeling secure ahead of Mohan’s induction into the RJD, the party has demanded the release of Prabhunath Singh, another Rajput leader lodged in jail.
“The upper caste, backwards, very backward people are all with BJP in Bihar. Everyone’s favourite is PM Narendra Modi. No matter how much the GA tries, the people of Bihar will support the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” said BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel.