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Clout, Caste: Why Bihar Parties Welcomed Anand Mohan's Release With Open Arms

Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

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A 'baahubali' who liked posing for photographs with a gun, a 'frenemy' of Lalu Prasad Yadav, a long-standing friend of Nitish Kumar, and one of the tallest leaders of Rajputs in Bihar - meet politician Anand Mohan Singh. His conviction in the case of the lynching of an IAS officer was probably one of the most talked about cases of Bihar in 2007.

Precisely why, the news of his release and his subsequent pictures with chief minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav have made national headlines.

The picture was clicked on 24 April at the engagement ceremony of Anand Mohan's son and MLA Chetan in Patna while Anand Mohan was on parole while serving his sentence. A day later, the list of 27 people being released by the Bihar government featured Anand Mohan's name.
Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav with former MP Anand Mohan attend engagement function of MLA Chetan Anand, in Patna, Monday, April 24, 2023.

(Photo: PTI)

The state leaders of the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have staunchly defended Mohan's release. While the Congress has largely been silent, the the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shown mixed responses.

Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

Undated picture of Anand Mohan (left) with Shankarsinh Vaghela and Mulayam Singh Yadav (right).

(Photo: Facebook/Anand Mohan)

Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma? What's his political clout and what is his voter base in the state?

Clout, Caste: Why Bihar Parties Welcomed Anand Mohan's Release With Open Arms

  1. 1. First, An Overview of the Lynching Case

    • In 1994, G Krishnaiah an Gopalganj District Magistrate and an IAS officer of 1985 batch was beaten to death while his car was passing a funeral procession in Muzaffarpur of which Anand Mohan was a part of. Krishnaiah was a Dalit from Telangana (then Andhra Pradesh).

    • Mohan, who was then an MLA from Mahishi in Saharsa district, was attending the funeral of Chhotan Shukla, a gangster belonging to the Bhumihar community.

    • Brij Bihari Prasad, an OBC strongman who later became a minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet, was being blamed for Shukla's killing at the time.

    • In 2007, the trial court awarded Mohan capital punishment for the murder. In 2008, the Patna High Court commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, a verdict which was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

    • According to prison rules in Bihar, those serving life sentence in cases like the killing of a government servant could not be released even after serving the sentence for 14 years. Mohan's release follows the Bihar cabinet's nod for amending this rule.

    Expand
  2. 2. Lalu's Frenemy, Nitish's Friend

    For political experts, the bonhomie from the ruling alliance does not come as a surprise considering the ties both the JD(U) and the RJD have maintained with Mohan and his family despite his conviction in 2007.

    As recent as the 2020 polls, Anand Mohan's wife Lovely and son Chetan both contested the Assembly elections on RJD tickets, with the latter having won with a significant margin.
    Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

    Undated image of Anand Mohan.

    (Photo: Facebook/Anand Mohan)

    However, things between Anand Mohan, Nitish, and Lalu haven't always been this hunky-dory.

    Anand Mohan won his first election in 1990 as a leader of an undivided Janta Dal from Hamhishi Assembly seat. Both Nitish and Lalu were tall leaders of the party then, with the latter being crowned the chief minister for the first time that year.

    Following Lalu's rise in Mandal politics, Mohan split from the party in 1993 to form the Bihar People’s Party (BPP). A year later, while Nitish Kumar, too, split from the Janata Dal to form the Samata Party, the BPP tasted its first high-profile electoral success with lovely winning a bypoll from Vaishali.

    Following a dismal performance after fielding over 100 candidates in the 1995 Assembly polls, Mohan joined hands with the Nitish Kumar-George Fernandes-led Samata Party and won the Lok Sabha elections from Sheohar in 1996.

    The party fought the 1999 election in alliance with the BJP and the JD(U). It merged with the Congress in 2004.

    Expand
  3. 3. Who Votes for Anand Mohan?

    In the 90s, while Lalu rode the Mandal votes, Anand Mohan emerged as one of the tallest leaders of the upper castes, specifically the Rajputs. While being soft on Anand Mohan, both Mahagathbandhan and the BJP have a clear focus on Rajput and upper caste votes.

    With substantial segment of the OBCs backing the Mahagathbandhan and the BJP having garnered substantial upper caste votes in the 2020 Assembly polls, Nitish Kumar is looking to woo the upper caste votes with Anand Mohan's help, experts say.

    Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

    A poster of BPP for a march to Jodhpur from 1994.

    (Photo: Facebook/Anand Mohan)

    According to data, most upper caste MLAs (34) were elected on a BJP ticket.

    According to data curated by Trivedi Centre for Political Data, the BJP distributed 24.5% of all its tickets (110) to Rajput candidates, 11.8% of tickets to Brahmins, and 7.3% of tickets to Bhumihars.

    The JD(U), meanwhile, distributed less than 20% tickets to candidates from across upper castes.

    Anand Mohan and his family command clout among Rajput and other upper caste voters in at least four constituencies including Sheohar, Supaul, Saharsa, and Madhepura - all constituencies where the BJP is considered to be weak.

    Experts believe that the need to consolidate Rajput votes is what made Nitish Kumar not shy away from his bonhomie with Anand Mohan.

    Expand
  4. 4. Not the Only One in the List With Political Links

    While the spotlight is on Anand Mohan, another prisoner with political links has been released.

    Former JD(U) leader and MLA Awadhesh Mandal is also one of the 27 prisoners to be released. His wife Bima Bharti is a sitting JD(U) MLA from the Rupauli Assembly constituency for the fourth consecutive term. She is also a former cabinet minister.

    The list of those to be released has also irked the CPI(ML) which has provided outside support to the Mahagathbandhan. In a statement issued on the matter, party secretary Kunal said that six of its comrades have died and many others from Arwal district are languishing in jails since their conviction under TADA in 2003 “in a blatant travesty of justice”.

    The others in the list includes Raj Ballabh Yadav from Buxar and Chandeshwari Yadav from Bhagalpur, both of whom are over 80 years of age. It also includes also includes Ram Pradesh Singh (Gaya), who was convicted way back in 1985, PTI reported.

    Expand
  5. 5. BJP in a Dilemma

    The response of the BJP on the matter has largely been lukewarm, at least within the state unit.

    Former Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter to ask Nitish Kumar on what basis were the prison rules diluted.

    "The steps were taken only to use the 'baahubalis' (musclemen) during elections," he alleged.

    BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya in a tweet launched a scathing attack on the ruling alliance in Bihar to say: "Shame on Nitish Kumar for capitulating to RJD’s sinister machinations," he said.

    "Can someone who is leaning on a criminal syndicate, to hold on to power, be the face of India, even as opposition leader?" he added.

    BJP MLA Awdhesh Narain Singh, while speaking to the media, took a less fierce stand.

    "The law has taken its course here and these things function accordingly. But the rules should be same for all," he said.

    Union Minister Giriraj Singh, however, said that "poor Anand Mohan was just a scapegoat for the Nitish Kumar government."

    "People are asking, who all have been released under the cover of releasing only Anand Mohan," he said.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

First, An Overview of the Lynching Case

  • In 1994, G Krishnaiah an Gopalganj District Magistrate and an IAS officer of 1985 batch was beaten to death while his car was passing a funeral procession in Muzaffarpur of which Anand Mohan was a part of. Krishnaiah was a Dalit from Telangana (then Andhra Pradesh).

  • Mohan, who was then an MLA from Mahishi in Saharsa district, was attending the funeral of Chhotan Shukla, a gangster belonging to the Bhumihar community.

  • Brij Bihari Prasad, an OBC strongman who later became a minister in the Rabri Devi cabinet, was being blamed for Shukla's killing at the time.

  • In 2007, the trial court awarded Mohan capital punishment for the murder. In 2008, the Patna High Court commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, a verdict which was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

  • According to prison rules in Bihar, those serving life sentence in cases like the killing of a government servant could not be released even after serving the sentence for 14 years. Mohan's release follows the Bihar cabinet's nod for amending this rule.

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Lalu's Frenemy, Nitish's Friend

For political experts, the bonhomie from the ruling alliance does not come as a surprise considering the ties both the JD(U) and the RJD have maintained with Mohan and his family despite his conviction in 2007.

As recent as the 2020 polls, Anand Mohan's wife Lovely and son Chetan both contested the Assembly elections on RJD tickets, with the latter having won with a significant margin.
Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

Undated image of Anand Mohan.

(Photo: Facebook/Anand Mohan)

However, things between Anand Mohan, Nitish, and Lalu haven't always been this hunky-dory.

Anand Mohan won his first election in 1990 as a leader of an undivided Janta Dal from Hamhishi Assembly seat. Both Nitish and Lalu were tall leaders of the party then, with the latter being crowned the chief minister for the first time that year.

Following Lalu's rise in Mandal politics, Mohan split from the party in 1993 to form the Bihar People’s Party (BPP). A year later, while Nitish Kumar, too, split from the Janata Dal to form the Samata Party, the BPP tasted its first high-profile electoral success with lovely winning a bypoll from Vaishali.

Following a dismal performance after fielding over 100 candidates in the 1995 Assembly polls, Mohan joined hands with the Nitish Kumar-George Fernandes-led Samata Party and won the Lok Sabha elections from Sheohar in 1996.

The party fought the 1999 election in alliance with the BJP and the JD(U). It merged with the Congress in 2004.

0

Who Votes for Anand Mohan?

In the 90s, while Lalu rode the Mandal votes, Anand Mohan emerged as one of the tallest leaders of the upper castes, specifically the Rajputs. While being soft on Anand Mohan, both Mahagathbandhan and the BJP have a clear focus on Rajput and upper caste votes.

With substantial segment of the OBCs backing the Mahagathbandhan and the BJP having garnered substantial upper caste votes in the 2020 Assembly polls, Nitish Kumar is looking to woo the upper caste votes with Anand Mohan's help, experts say.

Who is Anand Mohan Singh? Why has his release made national headlines and left the state BJP leaders in a dilemma?

A poster of BPP for a march to Jodhpur from 1994.

(Photo: Facebook/Anand Mohan)

According to data, most upper caste MLAs (34) were elected on a BJP ticket.

According to data curated by Trivedi Centre for Political Data, the BJP distributed 24.5% of all its tickets (110) to Rajput candidates, 11.8% of tickets to Brahmins, and 7.3% of tickets to Bhumihars.

The JD(U), meanwhile, distributed less than 20% tickets to candidates from across upper castes.

Anand Mohan and his family command clout among Rajput and other upper caste voters in at least four constituencies including Sheohar, Supaul, Saharsa, and Madhepura - all constituencies where the BJP is considered to be weak.

Experts believe that the need to consolidate Rajput votes is what made Nitish Kumar not shy away from his bonhomie with Anand Mohan.

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Not the Only One in the List With Political Links

While the spotlight is on Anand Mohan, another prisoner with political links has been released.

Former JD(U) leader and MLA Awadhesh Mandal is also one of the 27 prisoners to be released. His wife Bima Bharti is a sitting JD(U) MLA from the Rupauli Assembly constituency for the fourth consecutive term. She is also a former cabinet minister.

The list of those to be released has also irked the CPI(ML) which has provided outside support to the Mahagathbandhan. In a statement issued on the matter, party secretary Kunal said that six of its comrades have died and many others from Arwal district are languishing in jails since their conviction under TADA in 2003 “in a blatant travesty of justice”.

The others in the list includes Raj Ballabh Yadav from Buxar and Chandeshwari Yadav from Bhagalpur, both of whom are over 80 years of age. It also includes also includes Ram Pradesh Singh (Gaya), who was convicted way back in 1985, PTI reported.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

BJP in a Dilemma

The response of the BJP on the matter has largely been lukewarm, at least within the state unit.

Former Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter to ask Nitish Kumar on what basis were the prison rules diluted.

"The steps were taken only to use the 'baahubalis' (musclemen) during elections," he alleged.

BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya in a tweet launched a scathing attack on the ruling alliance in Bihar to say: "Shame on Nitish Kumar for capitulating to RJD’s sinister machinations," he said.

"Can someone who is leaning on a criminal syndicate, to hold on to power, be the face of India, even as opposition leader?" he added.

BJP MLA Awdhesh Narain Singh, while speaking to the media, took a less fierce stand.

"The law has taken its course here and these things function accordingly. But the rules should be same for all," he said.

Union Minister Giriraj Singh, however, said that "poor Anand Mohan was just a scapegoat for the Nitish Kumar government."

"People are asking, who all have been released under the cover of releasing only Anand Mohan," he said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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