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5 reasons why Shahabuddin is still 'saheb' and Bihar is limping back to 'Jungle Raj'

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 13-09-2016 Rajeev Kumar

The release of RJD politician and criminal Shahabuddin from Bhagalpur jail on bail has hit Bihar's image badly. In a shameful display of his power and powerlessness of Bihar government, Shahabuddin was escorted by around 400 vehicles, including some wanted criminals, from the Bhagalpur jail to his home in Siwan. Prevailing politics in the state after Shahbuddin's release shows that he continues to be a 'saheb' and that the entire state machinery is subservient to his whims. This has been proved by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's inability to take a firm stand against the convicted former RJD MP. Ironically, it was Kumar who had put the Siwan strongman behind bars in 2005.

The Opposition parties have already started claiming that the Jungle Raj is back in Bihar. But this time, the Bihar CM cannot afford to escape the charge saying it is just the usual politics. Here are five reasons that show how Shahabuddin is still 'saheb' of Bihar and the state is limping back to 'Jungle Raj of the erstwhile Lalu Yadav regime':

No open criticism of Shahabuddin by JD(U), Nitish Kumar

Ever since the criminal turned politician's release from Bhagalpur jail, no JD(U) leader, including, Nitish Kumar has taken a firm stand against Shahabuddin. Instead, the party and Kumar has decided not to pay much heed to the Siwan strongman. That too when Shahabuddin launched a frontal attack against Kumar, as soon as he came out of the jail. The Bihar CM had meekly countered Shahabuddin's swipe at him on Sunday, saying the people of Bihar had given the mandate to him. Kumar had also asked the media 'not to waste time and space by giving mileage to such people'.

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Meanwhile, Shahabuddin's release has spread fear and emboldened people's doubts over the judicial system of the country. On Monday, JD (U) leaders discussed their strategy post-Shahabuddin release and decided to attack RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and ignore Shahabuddin, according to HT.

No legal action against Shahabuddin by Bihar government

Instead of resorting to legal measures, the Bihar government tried to play down the issue of release of Shahabuddin, who is accused in over 60 cases. Even when senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has announced he would take up Shahabuddin's case to the Supreme Court for sending him back to jail, the Bihar government has no such plans.

Nitish Kumar's ego

When Kumar quit the alliance with the BJP over the nomination of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP in 2014 General Elections, it was widely perceived as the clash of his ego with those of Modi. Kumar's ego is in the spotlight once more. Some commentators even say that Nitish wouldn't have bothered about Shahabuddin if the latter had not attacked him.

Lalu Yadav's poll games

Lalu's s tacit support to Shahabuddin's statement against Kumar has exposed the brewing feud in the Grand Alliance. It is apparent that RJD wishes to upset the coalition, remove Nitish and install his son Tejaswi Yadav, as believed by many political experts, as the new CM. A shrewd politician Lalu is, he would use Shahabuddin episode for his benefit to any extent, even as Bihar burns.

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No more talks of development in Bihar

Normal discourse has changed in the state. While during Nitish's alliance with the BJP, main discourse in the state centred around development, now it is more about crime, criminals, and even cheating in school examinations. Bihar's image, for which Kumar worked so hard in the early years of his chief ministership, has taken a severe beating. The state seems to have embarked on an irreversible path of chaos. Can Kumar stop the slide?

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