After more than a decade in jail, the RJD’s despot and Lalu’s closest man, Shahabuddin was released on bail in Bihar. There are at least 35 cases pending against him amounting to Kidnapping, dacoity, and murder but the state government’s reluctance to start a trial in Rajiv Roshan’s murder case for more than two years was the primary reason for his release.
This may appear as a usual event of strongman getting freed under the patronage of his political boss, coming at the helm of things, but unfortunately it is not. It has the potential to reverse the scale of time in the troubled state at an intensity equal, if not greater, than atomic explosion.
Shahabuddin was the poster boy of Jungle – Raj in Bihar. A report by the People’s union for civil liberties aptly stated his terror: “The patronage and defacto immunity from legal action offered to him by the RJD government gradually made him a law unto himself giving him an aura of invincibility. Shahabuddin’s reign of terror was so complete that nobody dared depose against him in cases in which he was an accused. ”
Without going much into details of what Shahabuddin can do in Bihar, let us focus on his political importance.
Symbolism has a greater significance in politics than anything else. The images of Shahabuddin coming out of jail wearing spotless white Kurta, flaunting specs, and holding books in his hand tell one part the story; the fleet of more than 1300 SUVs for his reception, raining sweets and crackers in Siwan and jam-packed supporters along the way tell another part of the story.
However, both parts of the story converge at his first media interaction where, as a capacity of a member of national executive committee of RJD, Shahabuddin declared Nitish a situational Chief Minister similar to Madhu Koda. He further declined to accept Nitish as his leader and hailed Lalu as his supreme and the only leader.
Here, It is important to note that before Shahabuddin, the members of National executive committee used to be only from the first family of the party. Shahabuddin’s scathing remarks against Nitish have created an upheaval in Bihar’s political circle.
The chorus within RJD in the support of Shahabuddin is growing. RJD veteran Raghuwansh Prasad openly criticized Nitish by saying that Nitish was not his choice of CM after the 2015 assembly elections.
Does it mean Shahabuddin has a greater role to play in Bihar politics? Yes of course, and it’s dreadful. Shahabuddin will be Lalu’s go to man for all or any of the political scenarios which will be unfolding in the state in coming months.
It is widely anticipated that RJD is not happy with Nitish’s forced liquor ban in the state. However, to appear in solidarity with the alliance and to remain politically correct, Lalu has supported the move.
A mafia leader like Shahabuddin having no strings attached to the Mahagathbandhan will serve as a counterbalance to tame Nitish for any of his such diktats in future. Moreover, The fissures in Mahagathbandhan have started appearing at a speed greater than the expected.
In a scenario when the fault lines widen to the stage of separation, JD (U) would look for other options such as moving closer to BJP, Shahabuddin can influence & break a section of JD (U) MLAs to form a full-fledged RJD government in Bihar.
In the third scenario of non-alignment between any two of the three main political parties, where the election becomes inevitable, Shahabuddin will be vital in reviving the crucial Muslim-Yadav (MY) combination which may lead RJD to sweep the elections.
Following Nitish Kumar’s rise in 2005, RJD was completely routed from Bihar politics. However, the opportunism & selfishness of Nitish Kumar has brought the notorious party again in the frame.
They have gained the momentum during last assembly elections. Now, the party is rapidly gaining strength among its lost vote banks. If the things go as it is, RJD will be all over in Bihar politics in less than an year. This time they will be here to stay.
Biharis, please set your clock back to 1990.