On Tuesday, gangster-turned-politician Ritlal Yadav announced that he was contesting the upcoming three-phase assembly election in Bihar on a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ticket as he filed his nomination papers from Danapur assembly constituency in the afternoon.
Ritlal Yadav was released from prison less than two months ago and is facing over 33 criminal charges such as murder and extortion.
Ritlal Yadav’s name had also figured in the killing of Satyanarayan Sinha, the husband of Asha Devi Sinha , Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Danapur, in 2003. Sinha, incidentally, will be contesting against Yadav directly for the first time since her husband’s murder. Ritlal Yadav had also contested against the BJP MLA in 2010 as an independent candidate. But at that time he was lodged in jail for the murder.
Ritlal Yadav had hit the headlines during the 2014 Lok Sabha election when RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav appointed him the party’s general secretary to dissuade him from contesting from Patliputra constituency against his daughter Misa Bharti. Ritlal Yadav agreed not to contest the election after Lalu Prasad Yadav reportedly assured tickets to him or his wife for the 2015 assembly election.
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On June 14, 2015, RJD disowned Ritlal Yadav, who defied the party line and filed nomination papers as an independent candidate for Bihar legislative council’s Patna local authority seat, which had been allotted to then Grand Alliance ally Janata Dal (United).
Ritlal Yadav, who was elected as a Member of Legislative Council from behind bars in 2016, was released from jail on August 18, 2020, after being granted bail by a bench of Patna high court comprising justices Shivaji Pandey and Partha Sarthy in a money laundering case. The bench ruled that he could not be kept in jail anymore as the lawmaker had remained behind bars for more than seven years, which is the maximum sentence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.
Ritlal Yadav is the second gangster to turn to politics in Patna. The RJD has also fielded jailed gangster-turned-politician Anant Singh, who is facing 37 cases from Mokama in Patna district. Singh, better known as ‘Chhote Sarkar’, has won from Patna three times on a JD (U) ticket and once as an independent.
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The RJD has also given a ticket to Kiran Devi, wife of Arun Yadav, from Sandesh constituency. Arun Yadav, a sitting MLA from Sandesh, has been accused of sexual assault and is on the run. The party has also fielded the wife of former MP and muscleman Rama Singh from the Mahnar Assembly seat in Vaishali district.
Former MP Lovely Anand, the wife of incarcerated Anand Mohan Singh, is contesting from Saharsa on an RJD ticket. Her son Chetan Anand is also contesting from Sheohar on an RJD ticket.
The RJD, in its official website, has provided details of about 38 candidates it has given tickets to so far, who have cases pending against them, including those of murder, dacoity, extortion and kidnapping.
The JD(U) has dubbed it a reflection of the party’s “old habit to promote crime and criminals”.
“The RJD’s leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav talks of changing Bihar. By giving tickets to so many criminals, what kind of message is the party sending?” said JD(U) spokesperson Sanjay Singh.
The RJD, however, has defended its decision, reasoning its candidates have better chances of winning. RJD’s spokesperson Mritunjay Yadav rubbished the JD(U)’s comments and said, “Those sitting in glass houses should not throw stones at others.”
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