16 June, 2021

The Measure Of Lead

Shahabuddin's criminal panache still overwhelms Bihari politics

The Measure Of Lead
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The easiest electoral contest in Bihar is for a seat where the leading candidate is not even campaigning. Mohammed Shahabuddin—the 36-year-old, three-term MP from Siwan, in jail for murder and kidnapping—probably doesn't need to. Jail, in his case, is Siwan hospital, to which the honourable MP has contributed two wings. Among his history of philanthropic activities, on which the police have a sizeable dossier, he has also built a stadium in Siwan, a girls' college, a town hall and a building for the Red Cross. A medical college and an engineering college are on the make. "He has made Siwan what it is today," says a fawning local journalist. Robin Hood in jeans?

Shahabuddin, or Saheb as his men call him, won in '99, grabbing 55 per cent voteshare. The runner-up, the CPI(ML)—not a few of whose activists have found themselves on the wrong end of a gun in Siwan—got just 36 per cent. Nationally, it's not Saheb's "samaj sewa" but his criminal record that sets him apart. He's the "don of dons" in Bihar. Over six feet tall, fair, muscular, dressed in jeans and checked shirt,...

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