Lovely Anand, the wife of “don” Anand Mohan, hit the headlines when she defeated Kishori Sinha — the wife of former Bihar chief minister late Satyendra Narayan Sinha and mother of Congress’s nominee at the Aurangabad seat and former Kerala governor Nikhil Kumar in a 1994 by-election from north Bihar’s Vaishali Lok Sabha constituency.
What had bolstered the sudden rise of the photogenic wife of a smart-looking “don” was the fact that former chief minister Lalu Prasad — at the glory of his might and power then — had strongly backed Kishori — a former MP from the same seat, hailing from one of the most illustrious families of Bihar.
Lovely’s husband — a man with Robin Hood-like image then — had played a key role in scripting her near impossible victory on the seat known for the long rivalry between the two dominant upper castes — Rajputs and Bhumihars. Anand resorted more to his “persuasive skill” rather than his expertise with the firearms to cement the bond between the Rajputs and Bhumihars. The two upper castes were then up in arms against Lalu — a Mandal messiah and champion of the backward classes in the state.
But in the process of cementing the Rajput-Bhumihar bond, Anand befriended Chhotan Shukla and Bhutkun Shukla — trigger-happy “dons” from the Bhumihar community.
Lovely became a lawmaker but her husband and his newfound friends stayed back to their “gang warfare” ways. Police allegedly killed Chhotan in an encounter. Anand, Bhutkun and other “gangsters” protesting against Chhotan’s killing, subsequently killed then Gopalganj district magistrate, G. Krishnaiyah on the Muzaffarpur-Vaishali stretch in 1994.
The incident virtually marked a decline in fortune of Anand and Lovely. She went into oblivion losing the Vaishali seat to Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in 1996 to never become an MP. Anand, who won the Sheohar seat for a brief period in 1998, was given life imprisonment in Krishnaiyah murder case that he is serving in Saharsa jail.
Now, Lovely is virtually fighting a forlorn battle in Sheohar. Denied ticket by the mainstream parties, she is contesting the seat on the ticket of Samajwadi Party that may be in power in the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh but has little grounds to hold on to in Bihar.
On her part, however, Lovely is leaving no stone unturned in electioneering as May 7, the polling date in Sheohar and six other Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar draws near.
During electioneering, the Congress candidate from Supaul, Ranjeeta Ranjan, had the support of her “don” husband Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, against whom Anand had raised an army in the caste battle in the Kosi region in the ’90s. But Lovely has been criss-crossing the hinterlands of Sheohar all by herself with her husband cooling his heels in the jail for years.
It was around 7pm when Lovely had arrived at the village, which was half-asleep by then. However, the election songs blaring out of the loudspeaker atop the four SUVs in her cavalcade and the lights from their headlamps woke up the sleepyhead villagers.
“Anand Mohanji jail me kaid hain. Unhe saazish karke unlogon ne fansaya jo unki lokpriyata se dar gaye the. Jis ghatna mein wo they hi nahi, usme unko fansaya ghaya. Us ghatna ne hamare ghar ko ujad diya. Is samay hamare sangharsh mein aaplog sath dijiye (Anand Mohan is behind bars now. It was a conspiracy, as some people were feeling insecure because of his growing popularity. He was convicted for an incident during which he was not there at all. That incident destroyed our house. You lend your support to our struggle),” said Lovely at a public meeting in the neighbouring Chakkarpetta village.
Only May 7 will eventually show if Lovely has the much-needed sympathy of the voters.
“Bechari bahut pareshani me badi. Humni key madad na kareb to aau ke kari (She has faced a whole lot of trouble. If we don’t help her, then who else would)?” one of the women murmured.
Lovely tried to hurry up as two more villages were yet to be covered but the women from every second house stopped her brand new SUV and interacted with her.
A group of women came with khoicha — a custom in which five handful of rice from daughter’s maternal home is given to the daughter when she leaves after marriage and whenever she leaves her nanihal (maternal home) for going to her sasural (in-laws’ house). Lovely receives the khoicha in her purple-coloured cotton saree and said: “Beti ko jivandaan dijiye, ashirvad ke sath vote dijiye (Give another life to your daughter, bless me with your votes).”
At a stopover at Chakkarpetta village The Telegraph spoke to Lovely about her struggle, while her husband remains far away from her political ventures. “I have been struggling since the time of my marriage and now I am habituated to it. But I feel bad about my children, who too witnessed tough times since early childhood. They were very small when their father went to jail. But at the same time, I feel fortunate to have such responsible son and daughter, who are actively contributing in electioneering,” said Lovely.
Son Chetan Anand (23) and daughter Surbhi Anand (21) are campaigning for their mother.
On being asked about the reason behind leaving Congress and joining Samajwadi Party prior to the elections, Lovely said: “I was being neglected in the Congress and they were not giving me a ticket. Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, is a secular party and Mulayam Singhji supported my husband on several occasions in the past as well. I wanted to represent Sheohar because Anandji has won from this constituency twice and he wanted me to represent from here.”
In the poll battle, Lovely is pitted against with BJP’s Rama Devi, the sitting MP from Sheohar and wife of muscleman-turned-politician Braj Vihari Prasad from Muzaffarpur Assembly segment. Rama is banking on upper caste Hindu votes but a few residents in Sheohar claimed that there might be a split in the Bhumihar votebank from Rama and land up in Lovely’s kitty. The third contender in the fray in Sheohar is RJD candidate and former MP Anwarul Haque.
l Sheohar votes on May 7