Banda: Where dacoit Dadua calls the shots
The deep forests of Chitrakoot on the banks of river Mandikini had provided safe haven to Rama, Sita and Laxman. They spent eleven years of their 14 years exile here in the salubrious climate.
Today, the same dense forests have become an impregnable cover for dreaded dacoit Dadua, from where he scripts the fate of candidates in elections and signs the tenure of the district officials.
However there is an exciting turn in Dadua's saga ever since he shifted his loyalties from Bahujan Samaj Party to Samajwadi Party. The strong indications are that he is going the Phoolan way. In other words he would surrender at a gala function most probably in Satna in Madhya Pradesh primarily to enter politics.
As a precursor to his ambition to wear the white khadi instead of khaki (he is always dressed in police uniform), his brother Balkumar has already joined the Samajwadi Party. Though Balkumar confirms the tales in circulation, he refuses to disclose 'when and how' or the modus operandi worked out for Dadua's surrender.
His cryptic comment is 'Baat Cheet huyi hogi, hame pata nahin hai' (talks must have been held, I am not aware of that). Incidentally, politician behind his surrender is Mulayam Singh Yadav, whom Phoolan used to respect as his father after he brought her into politics.
The development has virtually taken the steam out of Opposition's campaign. It is also because yet dacoit, Lakhotia, who has hit headlines for gruesome crimes committed in recent past, has also extended support to SP.
Incidentally Lakhotia, dressed like Black commandoes has no clash with Dadua as they have their territories well defined. Both are Kurmis with their respective army whose strength ranges from 50 to 100. Fresh recruits are always available.
However a section in BJP believes that SP's controversial decision to rope in support of the two dacoits may prove counter-productive. The general perception is that Dadua's and Thokia's (both are Kurmis) unflinching support to SP nominee Shyama Charan Gupta may instigate consolidation of Brahmin votes in BJP's favour albeit not in the 365 villages where Dadua's writ runs large or villages under Thokia's control.
Incidentally it is from Manikpur assembly segment that his supported BSP's nominee Ram Sajivan had got enough lead to make it to the Lok Sabha in the 1999 elections. In 2002 assembly polls the BSP had won all the five assembly constituencies, thanks to Dadua. In return Mayawati had given ticket to his brother Balkumar who revolted after a hefty sum was demanded from him in lieu of ticket for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Notwithstanding the tales in the air, it is Shyama Charan's cycle that seems to be running fast not only in campaigning but otherwise too. Overnight SP flags have surfaced in villages in Chitrakoot. Dadua's message has spread. It is a signal well understood, neither discussed nor challenged.
His networking is intricately amazing. There are spies all over. The common perception is that Kurmi youth form his army. The police look on helplessly. Two things dot the area- temples and police operation post. But despite crores spent by the joint police force of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in last two decades, they have no cue about his hideout or looks. There is no picture of him though after his foray in politics, people have started recognising him.
He had first come into notice in 1978. In 1982 he had hoisted a flag of Dasyu Samrat Dadua in an Inter College field. Since then there has been no stopping of him. He has say in the posting of district officials, in allotment of contracts. When he married his son, top-notch politician attended it.
People are tight-lipped. They prefer silence Prodding doesn't help. They know that their area wrapped in tranquillity, only broken by sounds of bells, would echo with gunshots if they took one wrong step. They also know that for their survival they have to ride a cycle in this election.
Dadua's village: Deokali
The non-descript village hardly has any signs of development. No road, no electricity. Only mud houses, poverty, water logging, filth all over. But no one complains. Bal Kumar's wife,Rama Bai, was elected Gram Pradhan unopposed. Her only opponent was forced to retire after they reached a truce.
Dadua spared his life and property while he promised to keep away from politics. On the face of it people say that they would vote for 'whomsoever they liked'. But when asked about Dadua's diktat, they mumbe 'Jisko Jungle wale samarthan karenge, usi ko hum karenge'.
No one wants to talk about him. Grownups avoid as their wife prod them to stay away. 'Why do you want trouble'. Not that they would say anything against Dadua, who according to them turned into a dacoit to revenge the murder of a Principal, a Kurmi by caste, but why invite trouble from police.
Says Jai Nath Singh, 'Police used to trouble us earlier. Now they know we have nothing to do with Dadua. They don't come here anymore. (The other explanation is that even police fears Dadua). According to small children Dadua knows who visits the village and when. 'BY now he must have known that you visited the village and for what', quipped a young boy who seems to idolise him.
Shiv Kumar Kurmi alias Dadua had spent his childhood here. He grew up like ordinary kids till the murder took place. His old fragile grand uncle Dharjeet tells that Dadua had last visited the village when his mother had died. When asked if Dadua's surrender would make him happy, the old and fragile Dharjeet said 'Immensely'.
And to the question why Dadua, who has minted crores, spends money on the development of his village , pat comes the reply 'Rama Bai got this road made'.