Rahul Gandhi's zero-tolerance policy for criminals in the Congress seems to be in danger in the Bihar elections.
As the party gears to announce its list of candidates, the possibility of criminals getting tickets looms. The state poll committee has recommended the names of some hardcore criminals to the central panel.
Sources said the inclusion of names such as Pravin Singh Kushwaha, Fakhruddin Khan, Ashok Ram, Gappu Rai and Alind Rao has triggered dissent in the state unit.
Kushwaha, who is an aspirant from Bhagalpur constituency, faces many criminal charges. His candidature has prompted a father of a girl allegedly abducted and raped by him in 1988 to write a distressed letter to Gandhi, pointing to the agony the family had to face during the 2005 assembly elections when the Congress fielded Kushwaha.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had to cancel her meeting in Kushwaha's constituency in the 2005 polls after the victim's family wrote a letter to her. He has been in and out of the Congress several times.
Khan, seeking a Congress ticket from Narkatiaganj, had joined the party along with Sadhu Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad's brother-in-law, ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Facing many criminal charges, Khan, however, contested as an independent in parliamentary polls after the Congress denied him a ticket.
Ram, Rai and Rao, against whom murder cases have been registered in various police stations, are Congress aspirants from Ramnagar (reserved), Govindganj and Bettiah.
The party is also likely to give tickets to Lovely Anand and Ranjita Ranjan, wives of jailed bahubalis (muscle men) Anand Mohan and Pappu Yadav.
The party is, however, trying to keep it upbeat by invoking Bihar pride with the slogan "Aab zaroorat hai kaam ki, Bihar ke unche naam ki" (Now, there is need for development and enhancing the name and image of Bihar).