Mukesh Sahni is one name which is often heard in Bihar politics. Sometime back, his social efforts took shape of full time politics. A journey from Bollywood set designer to a political leader who launched his own political outfit- Vikasheel Insaaf Party (VIP) is an aspirant to fight 2019 Lok Sabha election from Muzaffarpur. Ina fresh move, Sahni has joined the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
After RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha, Sahni is the second leader who once was favourite of the BJP joined the Mahagathbandhan.
Journey of Mukesh Sahni:
The 38-year-old businessman turned politician Nishad leader from Darbhanga has popularised himself as the “Son of Mallah”. He left home at the age of 18 and went to Mumbai. There he ran a cosmetic shop initially but later he decided to make set for serials, Bollywood movies and private shows. The first break to him in making Bollywood set was provided by Nitin Desai for the movie “Devdas”. After gaining success he started his own company called- Mukesh Cineworld Private Limited.
After returning Bihar, he entered the political fray keeping strong affiliation with BJP. He took up the issue of reservation for Mallah, Nishad and Nonia (who come under the Extremely Backward Caste) and a demand to include them into Schedule Tribe category. He posed himself as their savior. Traditionally, the Nishad is a collective identity for more than 20 sub-castes whose livelihood has been linked to the river. Sahni says he has gathered these sub-castes of about 1.75 crore people in Bihar under one organisation—Nishad Vikas Sangh. Sahni widely campaigned for the BJP in 2014 lok sabha elections.
Mukesh Sahni’s Political Ambition:
Prior to 2015 Bihar assembly elections, he organised a mammoth rally of Nishad community which instigated Nitish Kumar to send recommendations to the Central government for ST status of Nishad community. Last year, he mercilessly criticised Bihar government where he said- In last 12 years not a single policy was for the welfare of the Mallahs.
Once a blue eyed boy and star campaigner of BJP, Sahni is now a political rival for BJP led NDA in Bihar. On one hand, Sahni slammed Modi and Shah for not reaping welfare results for Nishad community and on the other hand it was said, Bihar BJP unit did not receive expected political benefit and moreover, his demands of reservation did not fit the perception politics of RSS-BJP. Last month he declared- “Our party will have no alliance with the BJP. We can have an alliance with any party or combination that accepts at least four or five of our party’s demands”. The present situation has spelled a new equation as Mukesh Sahani is now part of Mahagathbandhan.
The Effect of Mallah Factor in Bihar:
According to sources of Vikasheel Insaf Party (VIP), Sahni may pitch in for 4 lok sabha seats for upcoming polls. The seat sharing of Mahagathbandhan is on cards. His main target is the parliamentary seat of Muzaffarpur. But this demand will not be easily achievable as Congress may field Jitendra Kumar, a renowned agriculturist of the city. He is known to have an association with Congress Seva Dal since 1982. So an inner tussle within the Mahagathbandhan with respect to Muzaffarpur parliamentary seat is expected.
The Nishad community accounts for 14% of the state population and probably can affect 14 parliamentary seats. Publicly this was stated by Mukesh Sahni which he claims to be the key factor in upcoming elections. Inclusion of Mukesh Sahni has increased the numerical strength of the Mahagathbandhan which may be an edge over the NDA but a subtle challenge may pop up which would be of seat distribution among the coalition partners.
The 40 lok sabha seats are to be divided among five parties namely, RJD, Congress, HAM, RLSP and VIP. The equation of Muslim-Yadav-Mahadalit (MYM) has transformed into Muslim-Yadav-Mahadalit-Nishad-Koeri (MYMNK) after entry of Upendra Kushwaha and Mukesh Sahni.
Let us see the gamble of a new entrant Mukesh Sahni into the Mahagathbandhan, whether it leads to power-shift or not.