With the BJP suffering back-to-back election humblings in Jharkhand and Delhi, all eyes are set on the party's poll strategy in Bihar, with the alliance dynamics having shifted markedly since its embarrassing defeat in 2015. Whereas Susashan Babu Nitish Kumar is back in power with the BJP at his side, Lalu Yadav is in jail in the fodder scam cases, and for the first time in the past 40 years, he won't campaign for assembly elections. AIMIM has entered the fray and Pappu Yadav is eyeing a comeback into the political scenario after his acquittal in the murder case of Ajit Sarkar.
In the midst of this, one thing that seems to have not changed in the Bihar elections is the presence of candidates with chequered records. Even in 2020, political parties across the spectrum have fielded their various musclemen, or their family members, with many even having serious criminal cases of murder, attempt to murder, rape, kidnapping, and extortion against them.
Anant Singh: Popularly known as Chote Sarkar, RJD has given a ticket to him from the Mokama assembly constituency. He has as many as 38 criminal cases of murder, extortion, kidnapping, and possession of illegal weapons on him. Currently lodged in jail, his wife Neelam Devi is also contesting from the same seat as an Independent candidate. Sources say that move has been taken to avoid the risk of losing the seat if Anant Singh's nomination is rejected. Notably, Anant Singh, who is the sitting MLA from the seat, was also Nitish Kumar's favourite and had represented the constituency in 2005 and 2010 on a JDU ticket.
Ritlal Yadav: A jailed politician who faces 33 criminal cases of murder, extortion and money laundering is RJD's candidate from Danapur Assembly seat. Ritlal Yadav is an accused in the murder of former BJP leader Satyanarayan Sinha. Ritlal is pitted against sitting BJP MLA Asha Singh, widow of Satyanarayan Sinha, who has won the seat for the last three terms.
Wife & son of Anand Mohan: RJD has also given tickets to son and wife of imprisoned don-turned-politician Anand Mohan Singh - who is serving a life sentence in the murder case of a District Magistrate in 1994 in Muzaffarpur. His wife Lovely Anand who is a former MP is contesting from Saharsa, and son Chetan Anand from Sheohar assembly constituency.
Wife of Ramakishor Singh: Don Rama Singh's wife Veena Singh has got an RJD ticket from Mahnar seat in Vaishali district. It is to be noted that Rama Singh's induction in the party has irked senior leader late Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. While after Lalu Yadav's intervention, Rama Singh was not formally inducted to RJD, after Raghuvansh Prasad Singh's death, RJD has given a ticket to his wife. Rama Singh is convicted in a number of crimes which include murder and kidnapping.
Wife of Raj Ballabh Yadav: Veeba Devi, the wife of former party MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav, who is serving life imprisonment for raping a minor, has been given RJD ticket from Nawada assembly constituency.
Wife of Arun Kumar Yadav: Kiran Devi, wife of absconding RJD MLA Arun Kumar Yadav who is accused in the Bhojpur rape case is contesting on RJD ticket from Sandesh constituency.
Surendra Yadav: Known as Magadh Samrat, RJD has given ticket to Surendra Yadav from Belaganj seat.
Manju Verma: Accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, Nitish Kumar's JDU has given ticket to former minister Manju Verma from Cheria Bariarpur constituency in Begusarai. Verma had resigned as minister for social welfare in August 2018 and spent six months in jail. She has won the seat for two terms. After a CBI probe, a Delhi court convicted the guilty in February this year, but neither Manju nor Chandrashekhar was even mentioned in the charge sheet. In May 2018, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) submitted a report to the Bihar government highlighting the alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls in the shelter home. The shelter home was funded by Verma's department and her husband Chandrashekhar Verma had close ties with Brajesh Thakur, owner of a newspaper who ran the shelter home.
Wife of Bindi Yadav: JDU has also fielded Manorama Devi, wife of Bindi Yadav, from Atri assembly seat. Bindi Yadav is currently in jail after being convicted in cases related to murder, extortion. Wife Manorama Devi has been to jail on accusations of hoarding alcohol. Moreover, Bindi Yadav's son Rocket Yadav is a history-sheeter.
Wives of several don-turned-politician Manoranjan Singh Dhumal, Awadhesh Mandal have also got JDU tickets from Ekma, Rupali assembly constituencies, respectively.
Wife of Akhilesh Singh: BJP has fielded Aruna Devi, wife of Akhilesh Singh - who is facing charges of murder in 27 cases including the Chakwai village massacre in Nawada district in 2004.
Brother of Sunil Pandey: Chirag Paswan's LJP has chosen Hulas Pandey from the Brahmpur seat who is the brother of criminal-turned-politician Sunil Pandey - who is facing several criminal cases of murder, attempt to murder and extortion.
Pappu Yadav's Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) has fielded a former Maoist Sudhir Kumar Verma, facing as many as 37 criminal cases, from the Gurua Assembly constituency in Gaya district.
This year's Bihar elections will witness the clash of as many as five alliances. The ruling JDU-BJP is contesting along with Mukesh Sahni's VIP and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), while LJP has decided to go solo. The Mahagathbandhan led by RJD has lost many key allies and is contesting with Congress and three left parties, with Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi as CM face.
On 28 September, Pappu Yadav who is eyeing a comeback in politics of Bihar stitched an alliance of his party Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) with Chandrashekhar Azad's Azad Samaj Party', MK Faizi's Social Democratic Party and Bahujan Mukti Party. They named it the Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA). On the other side, confident after his party's victory in byelections, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has teamed up with Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP, Mayawati's BSP, Devendra Yadav's SJDD, and SBSP as the 'Grand Democratic Secular Front' to contest the upcoming polls.
Bihar Assembly has a strength of 243 members out of which 38 seats are reserved for SC and two for ST. The upcoming Assembly election will be held in 3 phases- October 28, November 3 and November 7. To decongest polling stations, the voting time has been increased by one hour. The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
In the 2015 state polls, the Mahagatbandhan comprising RJD, JDU and Congress won a whopping majority with 178 seats under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. On the other hand, the BJP-led alliance won from only 58 constituencies. On July 26, 2017, Nitish Kumar stepped down as the CM citing irreconcilable differences with RJD over corruption allegations against Tejashwi Yadav and joined hands with its former ally BJP.