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Rags to higher reaches to rags

Patna, March 29: Sabir Ali is a quintessential example of rags to higher reaches to rags again in the political sphere.

Even in Bihar’s stun-all political chessboard it came as a surprise when Ram Vilas Paswan made Sabir a Rajya Sabha MP with Lalu Prasad’s backing in March 2008. Earlier on March 12, 2008, Paswan had announced Ranjan Yadav as his party’s candidate. But later the same day Paswan’s aides called a press conference to say Sabir (43) had replaced Ranjan. It was hard to fathom how Sabir — a Mumbai-based real estate operator — had managed the midnight coup.

Sabir’s luck finally ran out today when BJP president Rajnath Singh annulled his membership after a backlash from its Muslim face Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi among others. “His position now is such that nobody would want to touch him,” said JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar.

“It is hard for me to assess why the BJP dropped me. I had decided to serve it as honestly as I had served the JD(U). I can only blame my luck,” Sabir said. He sounded too shocked to talk in detail.

Sabir was born to Kaneez Bandi and Mazhar Hussein — a couple who till 2005 banked on the BPL card — of Dumaria village in Raxaul block in East Champaran district on July 18, 1970. His rise to power and opulence still baffles all in his village.

Sabir left home for Mumbai in the early 1990s. Family and friends say he started off as a labourer and then opened a telephone booth on Mumbai’s streets. Close friends attribute his opulence to his wife, Yasmin — from a rich family with real estate interests in Mumbai and Dubai. Sabir’s name figured in the 1997 murder of T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar. But the court exonerated him.

Politicians across party lines agree Sabir has a penchant for hosting high-profile leaders. Lalu was, probably, the first to be won over. The RJD fielded Sabir from Raxaul in 2005, denying a ticket to three-term MLA Rajnand Yadav. Sabir lost his security deposit in that election. He next got the LJP to field his wife, Yasmin, from Narkatiyaganj in the 2010 Assembly polls. She, too, lost her security deposit.

Paswan sent him to the Rajya Sabha in 2008. Not to fall behind, even Nitish Kumar saw “virtue” in Sabir, getting him into the JD(U) in 2011. Subsequently, Sabir became president of the JD(U)’s Delhi unit, organising Nitish’s Adhikar Rally and leading the party’s campaign for Delhi Assembly elections. He strongly hoped Nitish would give him a fresh term and also rehabilitate his wife.

But all his hopes were dashed when Nitish refused a second Rajya Sabha term to Sabir, N.K. Singh and Shivanand Tiwari. The JD(U) fielded him from Sheohar but sensing that he hardly stood a chance, Sabir returned the ticket, sang paeans for Narendra Modi and got dropped from the JD(U). His newfound home — the BJP — too drove him out today. Is it the end of the road for Sabir? Only time will tell.