Beyond Metros, Bihar, India

“Nitish Kumar is a leader of circumstances, my leader is Lalu Yadav,” says Shahabuddin

Gangster-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin, walked out on Saturday after spending 11 years in jail.  The former lawmaker from Lalu Yadav’s RJD, was granted bail earlier this week in a murder case. He received a grand welcome at the gates of Bhagalpur prison, as he was greeted by thousands of supporters in Bihar. A long entourage of SUVs reportedly escorted him back to his village Pratapur in Siwan.

The four-term former MP from Siwan who has more than 40 criminal cases against him and is serving a life sentence for murder, pledged allegiance to Lalu Yadav and took a dig at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar when he said, “Nitish Kumar is a leader of circumstances, my leader is Lalu Yadav.”

Even though the two former rivals, Lalu and Nitish came for the alliance recently, back in 2005 when Shahabuddin had gone to prison, they were bitter political rivals. Nitish Kumar, is also credited with ending Mr Shahabuddin’s reign of terror in Siwan.

The changed equations also reflect from Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United camp, as KC Tyagi said, “Shahabuddin is the leader of RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) – our alliance partner. I wouldn’t want to comment on it.”

Meanwhile, BJP’s Sushil Modi tweeted, “Now Lalu symbol of corruption will be on one side of Nitish & Shahabuddin symbol of terror on the other side…”

Lalu Yadav’s son Tejaswi Yadav refused all allegations and said, “When BJP leaders are given bail do people question them? When Amit Shah was given acquittal were BJP leaders questioned?”

Declining to comment on Shahabuddin’s remarks on Nitish Kumar, Mr Yadav said “It is his individual opinion.”

He was granted bail by the Patna High Court on Wednesday in the Rajiv Roshan murder case. In 2004, two brothers, sons of a local businessman, were killed in Siwan by a group of men who bathed them in acid. Their older brother Rajiv Roshan, who was an eyewitness in the case, was shot dead in 2015. Mohd Shahabuddin, who was in jail then, was accused of criminal conspiracy.

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