Vikas Dubey encounter brings politics-crime link under lens
The trendsetters belonged to the two castes – Brahmins and Thakurs -- that had dominated the electoral politics of the state till Mayawati, Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav emerged in the 1990s.Updated: Jul 11, 2020 07:42 IST
In the mid-1980s, two independent candidates, Hari Shakar Tiwari and Virendra Pratap Shahi, walked into the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha straight from jail. They had comfortably won their seats with the tacit support of the Congress.
Tiwari was lodged in Agra jail and Shahi in Fatehgarh, hundreds of km away from their electoral arena in Maharajganj of east UP,. While Shahi was gunned down later in the 1990s, Tiwari continued his winning spree, becoming a minister in various governments.
The trendsetters belonged to the two castes – Brahmins and Thakurs -- that had dominated the electoral politics of the state till Mayawati, Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav emerged in the 1990s.
But two constants remained.
One, candidates with criminal antecedents continued to win elections . Some criminals fought as independent candidates, others as official nominees of the political parties.
Two, all the criminals were self-styled Robin Hoods with similar career trajectories: a small begining by bullying or befriending cops at the local level and helping people out by funding weddings; building their empire with support from local politicians; living in huge safe bungalows with luxurious vehicles and protected by an army of supporters; and creating an aura of terror. Money came from lucrative contract business -- basically, they got a cut off everything.
Over the decades, politicians and governments turned a blind eye to the growing influence of such gangsters -- instead tapping them for this very influence during elections . And people knocked on their doors as governments failed to redress their grievances.
No government or leader could ignore them -- or their power and influence.
Former BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh, a tough administrator, included Raguraj Pratap Singh in his government in 1998. Raghuraj Singh was on the run till his swearing in Raj Bhawan.
The Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav formed a government in 2003 and included Singh in it.
The recommendations of the Election Commission were thrown to the wind in the distribution of tickets. Winnability became the prime factor in selection of candidates.
In 2017 as many as 143 out of 403 members of the Vidhan Sabha had criminal cases against them.
Interestingly, some do fall out of the favour.
Mukhtar Ansari , a five time MLA and former MP Atiq Ahmad, are facing the heat under the present dispensation with CM Yogi Adityanath out to demolish their empires . Raghuraj Pratap Singh and his father were hounded by Mayawati and are currently lying low. Like many others, the Singhs are connected to every party.
DP Yadav who ruled the roost in west UP was denied ticket by Akhilesh Yadav in 2012. He has been languishing in the backwaters.
Prof DNS Yadav of Lucknow University says: “ Politicization of criminals started during Indira Gandhi days when parties started taking their help to win elections. Thereafter started criminalization of politics - instead of supporting candidates, criminals decided to themselves contest and win elections.”
Vikas Dubey, too, had a huge following, especially in his caste group (he is a Brahmin) but he did not contest elections. He took membership of BSP in 1996 but could never get a ticket to contest. He was convicted in a murder case. But his wife is independent member of zila panchayat, an indication of his clout.
The empire that he built would not have been possible without the support of the administration; Dubey had 60 criminal cases against him and had been convicted in a murder case.
Former DGP and chief of UP Election Watch, I C Dewedi told HT once that “the leaders of mainstream political parties talk of clean and crime-free politics but to win elections they give tickets to criminals with money and muscle power.”