July 27, 2021 8:10:16 am
Close on the heels of Bihar minister and Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahani paying tributes to bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, two other top leaders from the state — Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, and LJP MP Chirag Paswan – have also sung paeans for the former MP.
Phoolan Devi, who belonged to the Nishad community (represented by boatmen and fisherfolk), was elected as an MP on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. She was assassinated in 2001.
On Sunday, Tejashwi tweeted his tributes to Phoolan Devi along with a photo of the former bandit, calling her a “revolutionary heroine”. Paswan, who has been fighting for his political survival, recalled how his father, former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, used to treat Phoolan Devi as his sister. “Phoolan Devi had a very long relationship with my family. My father used to treat her as his sister. She fought for her rights and never lost against wrong forces,” he said.
Though neither Tejashwi nor Paswan have indicated that their parties may contest the upcoming Assembly elections in UP, they have sent overtures towards their commitment to subaltern politics.
Meanwhile, Sahani – whose VIP is a junior partner in the ruling NDA alliance in Bihar — looks keen to expand his base beyond Bihar by trying to play up his Nishad identity in the name of Phoolan Devi. He had earlier declared that he would install statues of Phoolan Devi in the 18 districts of UP where Nishads hold sway, and that would observe her death anniversary every year.
However, on Sunday, he was turned back from the Varanasi airport upon his arrival from Delhi and Phoolan Devi’s statues were seized before they could be installed. Sahani later said, “I would continue to work in UP and for the cause of the Nishad community in whatever manner I can.”
— With ENS, Lucknow
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