Bihar politics has ushered in women’s empowerment in an unlikely sphere.
Several dreaded woman dons, with an impressive number of heinous charges against them, are contesting in the fifth phase of the assembly elections in the state to be held on November 9.
Of the 139 candidates with criminal charges who are contesting in the 35-seat fifth phase, 11 are women.
Take Nitu Kumari, the Congress candidate from Hisua constituency in Nawada district. She faces charges relating to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, armed rioting, causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons, among others.
Congress candidates Aruna Devi from the Warsaliganj seat and Nivedita Singh from the Nawada constituency have similar records.
Even the Karnataka-based Janata Dal (Secular), which has a marginal presence in Bihar, is fielding two women dons — Lalita Devi from Wazirganj in Gaya district and Sunaina Devi from Harnaut in Nalanda district.
Not to be left behind, the Communist Party of India (Liberation), a splinter Naxal group which has joined mainstream politics, has nominated Leela Verma, a much-feared local criminal, for the Bikram seat in Patna district.
These women are able to stand for elections because only those convicted for crimes — and that too to for a jail term of more than three years — are barred from contesting.
An analysis of affidavits of 441 candidates by National Election Watch (NEW), an organisation of NGOs, revealed this new trend of women dons aspiring to enter the Bihar assembly.