They are notorious faces. But for the first time in many years, four criminals-turned-politicians from Bihar will be unable to contest the Lok Sabha elections. The electoral laws have finally caught up with them.
Locally known as bahubalis for their muscle power, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MPs Pappu Yadav and Mohammed Shahabuddin, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Surajbhan Singh and former Janata Dal-United (JD-U) MP Anand Mohan have been disallowed by the courts from contesting .
The courts have turned down their plea that their conviction in criminal cases be suspended so that they can fight the elections. All the four were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in different cases.
"It is a rare but positive beginning. It has never happened before that none of the four is in the fray," M.P. Gupta, a senior lawyer of the Patna High Court, told IANS.
Be it the working class or the elite, most people see their absence from the polls as a positive sign for Bihar and its politics although all four have managed to put up their wives as candidates.
"It's a right thing that criminals-turned-politicians like Shahabuddin, Pappu Yadav, Surajbhan and Anand Mohan are being kept away from elections. It will send a strong message," said Kamlesh Singh, a government official.
The four are among a dozen politicians, including MPs and legislators, who have been convicted and sentenced by fast track courts in Bihar after 2005, thus becoming ineligible to contest.
Any person convicted for a crime and sentenced to more than a two-year-long jail term cannot fight elections for six years after the completion of his sentence.
The Patna High Court last week rejected Pappu Yadav's plea to suspend his conviction in a criminal case and so he can't contest in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a lower court for murdering Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) legislator Ajit Sarkar in 1998. Yadav is currently out on bail.
Last month Shahabuddin's election hopes were finally dashed when the Patna High Court dismissed his plea to suspend his conviction in a criminal case.
Shahabuddin, who is in Siwan jail, was convicted in seven criminal cases. The electoral registration officer in Siwan district also turned down his request for inclusion in the voters' list on the ground that he had been in jail for more than six months.
Last year Anand Mohan too was convicted and awarded the death penalty for inciting a mob that lynched Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiyah in 1994. He too is in jail.
Surajbhan Singh, MP from Balia, was sentenced to life last year for the murder of a farmer in 1992. He is out on bail.
In the 2004 polls, Shahabuddin and Pappu Yadav contested from behind bars. Surajbhan Singh was out on bail and won from Balia.
If Shahabuddin faces over three dozen criminal cases, including murder, kidnapping, extortion and loot, so does Pappu Yadav, who faces over two dozen criminal cases. Surajbhan Singh and Anand Mohan face nearly two dozen cases each.
However, they have managed to field their wives. Shahabuddin's wife Heena Sahab is contesting from Siwan as the RJD candidate.
Veena Devi, the wife of Surajbhan Singh, is the LJP candidate from Nawada.
Lovely Anand, the wife of Anand Mohan and a former MP herself, is contesting as a Congress candidate from Sheohar. She joined the party last week.
Pappu Yadav's wife Ranjeeta Ranjan is already an MP but she has switched parties. She is now contesting from Supaul, not for the LJP, but for the Congress party, which she joined on Sunday.