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Poll scene hots up in Banda-Chitrakoot region

Saturday 10 March 2007, by KHAN*Atiq

With the entry of former CPI and BSP leader into the Congress

LUCKNOW: A bitter battle of the ballot between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress is in the offing in Banda-Chitrakoot region of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh following the entry of former Communist Party of India and Bahujan Samaj Party Member of Parliament Ram Sajivan (Singh) into the Congress on Friday.

With the UP Assembly elections round the corner, his entry into the Congress assumed significance against the backdrop of dreaded brigand Shiv Kumar alias Dadua’s virtual hegemony in the region. Before he jumped into the `badlands’, Dadua was considered close to Mr. Sajivan, a journalist - turned-politician. He started his journalistic career with Amrita Bazar Patrika and worked for it for five years before becoming a CPI MLA in 1967 from Banda-Chitrakoot.

Dadua’s proximity to Mr. Sajivan continued till the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when the latter lost the polls from Banda on BSP ticket. Since by that time the brigand had switched loyalty to UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the split between the two became the cause for the former MP’s defeat at the hands of the Samajwadi party’s Shyama Charan Gupta. Before the split came, it was alleged that Mr. Sajivan patronised the dacoit, who, incidentally supported the BSP’s cause before 2004.

Mr. Sajivan, however, denied his alleged proximity to Dadua. Talking to newspersons, he slammed the UP Chief Minister for sending him to jail on trumped up charges that he was a harbourer of the bandit. The former MP alleged that the brigand was bought off by Mr. Gupta’s father, Tirath Prasad Gupta, who he said paid Dadua Rs. 50 lakh for supporting his son.

He alleged that Dadua was employed by Mr. Gupta as a muscleman to protect his business in Tendu leaves, used for making "bidis". Exuding confidence for the impending electoral battle, the former MP says he is not afraid of Dadua or Thokia, another dacoit of the region.

Starting off as a CPI MLA in 1967, Mr. Sajivan retained his seat on CPI ticket in the 1974, 1977 and 1985 Assembly elections. A three-time MP, he won the 1989 Lok Sabha poll on CPI ticket from Banda and thereafter went over to the BSP. He was the BSP MP in 1996 and 1999 elections.

The electoral contest in the Banda-Chitrakoot and Paatha region encompassing the jungles of Manikpur revolved round the clout of the dominant Kurmi Backward Class with the Kol tribals, who were landless agricultural labourers, filling in as support cast. Both Mr. Sajivan and Dadua were Kurmis and drew support from a common constituency.

Since Dadua became a Kurmi household name in the region, notwithstanding the Rs. 5-lakh reward on him, his writ runs large --- it is he who decided the fate of the candidates. In the 2002 Assembly elections, two sitting BSP MLAs, R.K. Singh Patel from Karvi and Daddu Prasad from Manikpur, won on Dadua’s support. The brigand’s brother, Bal Kumar (now in SP), had contested against SP’s Reoti Raman Singh in Karchhana, Allahabad district.

See online : The Hindu

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