| Hena Shahab |
Mohammad Shahabuddin is away languishing in jail but his absence is hardly a concern when it comes to charting out the details of his wife Hena Shahab’s campaigning. A team of Shahabuddin’s friend is working behind the curtain to manage the campaigning.
Hena is pitted against a four-corner contest against JD(U)’s Manoj Kumar Singh, BJP’s Om Prakash Yadav and CPI(ML)-Liberation’s Amarnath Yadav.
Hijab has gone from the face of Hena’s which was very much visible till the last Lok Sabha elections. Now the 41-year-old in her burqa is reaching out to voters with loud voice, the credit goes to the professional and qualified dedicated team of her jailed husband.
Everything is charted out from the bungalow-shaped RJD district office at Babuniaya Station Road in Siwan town. The house belongs to a doctor who has now shifted abroad along with his family member. One RJD man claimed that the doctor has given the space for party use on lease. As Hena was busy campaigning in several blocks, her team used to finalise her programme in the town. “It is very crucial election for madam and we do want to take any chance that's why a dedicated team has been put in place to manage the campaign and communication party,” said Parmatma Ram, RJD district president.
Charting out the plans for Hena’s is very close door affair and the five members under which around 150 workers are working are afraid of saying anything about their job.
However, while speaking to The Telegraph, professor Manoj Singh, a trusted lieutenant of Shahabuddin, accepts that the party needs educated people to carry out paper work. “I am not political person but I just finalise the route chart for Henaji. I do not give any political advice to her,” said Manoj, a JNU, New Delhi, alumnus, whose cellphone ringed more than 15 times in just five minutes.
He is the man responsible to ensure that the party gets all clearance from the district administration before holding any rally in the Siwan Lok Sabha constituency for Hena. The work includes permission from the district magistrate for helipad, clearance from the election officer for barricading the rally venue, tab on the vehicles involved in election duty, receiving important mails and fax messages from the headquarters.
As per the tight schedule, Hena was seen not leaving any stone unturned to woo the voters and campaigning for around 16 hours a day while travelling on her white Fortuner with Bengal number plate (WB-063 2099). Lilatwati Giri, district women’s cell president, and Krishan Devi, vice-president, always accompany her in the car along with a woman police officer.
Graduate in history and political science from Vidya Bhavan Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Siwan, Hena keeps her updated with an iPhone and very frequently found scrolling the number and checking the messages.
Comparing to the last Lok Sabha elections, Hena has become more bold and active but never wants her only son Osama Saheb to step into politics unlike other leaders who have already launched their sons and daughter in the politics. “He is studying BBA-LLB in Amity University, Noida, and that’s the reason I have kept him aside from the campaigning,” said Hena.
Hena first contested in 2009 on the RJD seat but lost by 63,000 votes to Independent nominee and Shahabuddin’s long-time opponent Om Prakash, who is now a BJP candidate. Interestingly, Shahabuddin defeated Om Prakash in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
In a talk with cross-section of people in Siwan, it seems that Hena has gained the sympathy especially after the district administration shifted Shahabuddin from the Siwan divisional jail to the central jail in Gaya on May 5.
The “Siwan Sultan”, as Shahabuddin is referred to because of his grip on the constituency, never wished for his wife to enter the public domain.
Hu“I never thought that I will ever enter in politics but the circumstances are such that I have to restore the glory which my husband had created in Siwan. Ye to logo ka pyaar aur samaan hai ki mujhe chunave ladne ki takat milti hai (It is love and respect of people which gives me strength to fight election),” Hena told The Telegraph.
Shahabuddin, whose name once spelt terror in Siwan and its neighbouring districts, is serving life term after being convicted for kidnapping and murdering CPI-ML (Liberation) worker Chote Lal Gupta. Shahabuddin is jailed since 2005 and has also been barred from contesting elections.
Ramesh Singh, a villager in Pachruki block, said: “What was the need to shift Shahabuddin in other jail? It shows that the state government is afraid that he may affect the voters. Hena’s husband in jail was not a big issue but ever since he has been shifted it has become a talk of the town.”
Even Hena is not missing any opportunity to raise the jail shifting issue in every rally. While addressing a rally at Badhariya, Hena said: “My husband has been shifted to jail intentionally on the instruction of Nitish Kumar. The state government is afraid of my husband who has done all the development work in the Siwan district. The tactics has been used to demoralise me but you people are my strength.”
• Siwan votes today