Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Pappu Yadav is set to tickle the taste buds of fellow inmates at Tihar Jail. He has won a canteen contract in the jail, but in the name of another prisoner, whom he put up as a front.
"An inmate backed by Pappu Yadav was awarded the canteen contract of Jail No 3 where the two are lodged. Yadav put up the highest bid in the auction - he won the deal to run the canteen for Rs 60,000 a month," a senior jail official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"A Sikh inmate on behalf of Pappu Yadav signed the contract papers - as he can't bid for the auction as an MP. So he put this inmate as a front. The contract was handed over to the Sikh inmate but the canteen's reins will remain with the MP," the official said.
The canteen is now known as 'Pappu Bhaiya ki canteen' or 'Pappu da Dhaba'!
Pappu Yadav alias Rajesh Ranjan, MP from Bihar, was arrested in March 2004 for his alleged involvement in the murder of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Ajit Sarkar. Sarkar, a legislator from Purnea, was shot dead by men allegedly acting on Yadav's orders on June 14, 1998.
He was transferred to Tihar Jail in February 2005 following a Supreme Court order to take him out of Patna. His conviction has still not been pronounced.
A Tihar official told IANS that canteen contracts in each prison (there are nine jails in the complex) are changed every year and fresh quotations sought from inmates.
"Only prisoners can bid for the contract. The money earned through the auction is transferred to the Prisoners' Welfare Fund," the official said.
Jail No 3 has several VIP inmates.
"Pappu Yadav, or his man, can easily earn a profit of at least Rs 40,000 a month. No contractor earns less than this. The inmates don't prefer jail food. Affluent prisoners order snacks and meals twice or thrice a day.
"Pappu Yadav will also enjoy the privilege of getting food of his own choice, except non- vegetarian food which is not served in any of the Tihar jails," the official added.
Officials told IANS that the Madhepura MP has hired fellow inmates to run the canteen, to keep away from being directly involved in the business.
Pappu Yadav is the same MP who had in a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee accused the Tihar authorities of misbehaviour and misconduct and of monitoring his activities.
He had said that he was unable to put up with the "mental torture" and had no other option but to commit suicide along with his MP-wife Ranjita Ranjan and their two children.
Now, it looks as though he is settling down to prison life.