JD(U) pits ‘Singham’ cop against BJP veteran in Rajgir

When Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar released the grand alliance’s list of candidates on September 23, he left out one seat. He said he would announce the candidate in Rajgir (SC), in his home constituency of Nalanda district, in a day or two.

Everyone was curious. But for Ravi Jyoti Kumar (42), a police inspector known variously as “Singham” and “Robinhood” in the district, the suspense was killing.

Like several others, Mr. Jyoti Kumar had submitted his CV to two close aides of Mr. Nitish Kumar who hail from Nalanda district and told them he would like to contest from Rajgir. But, he had never met the Chief Minister.

“I spent a sleepless night when the Rajgir seat was omitted in the candidates’ list,” Mr. Jyoti Kumar told The Hindu. “Then began an agonising wait.”

Two days later, he got a call asking him to reach the Chief Minister’s residence soon. “I rushed to Patna and met the CM, who said, ‘now you’ve to take on the BJP candidate in Rajgir… please complete the official formalities.’ ”

He took VRS (voluntary retirement from service) and plunged into the poll campaign in the district he had served as a cop for 21 years.

In the course of his several postings in the district (he had been transferred over a dozen times), he had earned the reputation of being a tough cop who could deliver justice to all irrespective of caste, creed or position.

He was in charge of the famous month-long Malmas Mela (a religious fair) at Rajgir held every three years. “It was a difficult job… I got little sleep for 30 days, but there was not even a single incident of pocket-picking or molestation, let alone major crimes,” he said.

The Chief Minister too lauded him for the peaceful conduct of the fair.

Once when he arrested an upper-caste doctor in an attempt to rape case, he was transferred from Hilsa police station just 23 days after he was posted there. The local people staged a massive protest for five days against his transfer. “That’s when I realized the love and respect they had for me,” he said.

This “Robinhood” of Rajgir sets off on his poll campaign at 5 a.m. everyday and, unlike his rival candidate, travels on foot everywhere in the constituency with a handful of supporters.

Nalanda has been Mr. Nitish Kumar’s home constituency and a stronghold of his Kurmi caste (OBCs), but Rajgir has always been a challenge. The septuagenarian BJP candidate Satyadeo Narain Arya has won all elections here since 1977, except in 1990 when he lost to CPI candidate Chandradev Prasad Himanshu.

“It’s a new battle for me, but I’ve taken it as a challenge,” said Mr. Jyoti Kumar.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 12:54:48 PM |

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