SIWAN (BIHAR): Wives of two local don-turned-politicians — one imprisoned in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and the other out on bail — are locked in a fierce battle in Siwan, marshalling all their might to win the seat in north-west Bihar.
Kavita Singh, wife of Ajay Kumar Singh who is embroiled in dozens of criminal cases, is a two-time MLA and the Janata Dal (United) candidate.
Daughter of a Mukhiya (village head) mother, Kavita married Ajay through a matrimonial advertisement which stipulated that the bride should be ready to be fielded as a candidate for Assembly since the groom was convicted. She was selected from among 16 proposals which Ajay received. “She is intelligent and courageous. I was impressed after interviewing her for marriage. My wife is a lioness and an ardent worshiper of Maa Durga,” says her husband with a beaming smile.
“It is his love that sees in me a lioness, but I am a sevak of people. For me, the nation comes first and wherever I go, I seek votes for development and nationalism,” she says.
Asked about her rival and RJD candidate Hena Shahab, wife of don-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin, Kavita turns poetical. “Nari tum shraddha ho, nari tum shakti, nari hi nar ko deti janm. I don’t wish to comment. She is a woman like me,” she says, and hastens to add, “But Siwan will not return to the days of terror again.”
Ajay, wearing a saffron turban with a rudrakash around his neck, says: “This fight is about nationalism, development and pride of being born in the land of Dr Rajendra Prasad. Dar ki koi jagah nahi (There is no room for fear).”
At Pratapur, the native village of Siwan’s ‘Sultan’ and ‘Saheb’, RJD workers have gathered at his sprawling mansion at 8.30 am. Hoping to be third time lucky, his wife Hena, wrapped in a hijab, instructs workers regarding the days’ campaign details.
Asked what are the issues she is fighting for, Hena says: “For me the issue is all-round development and prosperity of Siwan, preserving the dignity of all.” Does she face a tough task in seeking votes because of being the wife of a convicted person? Hena denies Shahabuddin’s criminal record.
“My saheb has never been a don or crime-monger. He has always served the people of Siwan as son of the soil. I don’t face any kind of fear, but a lot of support from all sections of people,” she claims. She says PM Narendra Modi has ruined the country’s economy and pushed the nation in turmoil while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has lost his credibility because of switching over from one alliance to another.
Siwan’s sitting MP Om Prakash Yadav, a BJP leader, was a popular personality but was replaced with Kavita as the seat fell in ally JD(U) quota. Though crestfallen, he tries to hide the sense of hurt. “I am a true follower of the BJP and owe no grudges,” he says.
Sitting beside him, Ramesh Kumar, a local voter says: “Caste polarisation will decide the results here. Siwan has the highest number of Yadav, Rajput and Muslims voters. The voters have to choose between two musclemen’s wives. They have been silent, but they will vote intelligently.”
Professor Arun Kumar Srivastava, appears to be leaning towards the RJD candidate. “Nobody can deny the development work done by Mohd Shahabuddin and how he was like a family member to his constituents,” he says.