Why Baahubalis flourish – II

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have seen many other mafia dons, who like the ones mentioned above, flourish under the umbrella of one political party or the other

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have seen many other mafia dons, who like the ones mentioned above, flourish under the umbrella of one political party or the other
Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have seen many other mafia dons, who like the ones mentioned above, flourish under the umbrella of one political party or the other

The previous part of the article can be accessed here Part 1. This is the second part

Baahubalis from crime to politics

Even as Atiq was wreaking havoc in Prayagraj, not far away in the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh—Ghazipur, Mau, and Varanasi belt—another baahubali with an equally imposing physique and a ruthless streak was causing mayhem. His name was Mukhtar Ansari. The don comes from an ancestral lineage that would be a matter of pride for anyone. His paternal grandfather served as the Congress party’s president before Independence, and his maternal grandfather, a Brigadier in the Army, sacrificed his life defending Indian territory from Pakistani incursions into Kashmir in 1948; he was awarded the Mahavir Chakra.

Like Atiq, Mukhtar Ansari used strong-arm tactics to secure government contracts, and he had his share in every pie of development in Poorvanchal. Initially, he had to contend with another strongman, Brijesh Singh, and the rivalry between the two became the stuff that legends are made of, in the region. Lives were lost during the confrontation that lasted several years. But what turned Mukhtar Ansari’s fate for the worse was the assassination of senior BJP leader Krishnanand Rai in 2005. Rai was ambushed along with some of his men in broad daylight, and, according to media reports, as many as 400 bullets were fired at them from AK-47s. The chief of the killer squad was the notorious Munna Bajrangi, an associate of Ansari.

The police chargesheet named Ansari for the killing and he was lodged in jail. The Samajwadi Party, which had patronized him, distanced itself, and Ansari migrated to the BSP. After Mayawati showed him the door, he floated his own outfit, the Quami Ekta Dal, which he later merged with the BSP after seeking a rapprochement.

The BSP, which today claims to have come down hard on mafia elements during its reign in the state, had given tickets to two members of Ansari’s family in the 2017 Assembly elections; Ansari too contested, and won, while the others lost. Cooling his heels in prison, Ansari continues to do his bit to remain relevant.

If Uttar Pradesh had become a happy hunting ground for mafia elements, neighboring Bihar fared no better, where the baahubalis fiercely defended their respective home turfs and ensured that they ruled by fear. One such notorious character is Anand Mohan Singh. The self-styled leader of the upper castes, he had tried to stitch, with some success, an alliance between the Thakurs and the Bhumihars of the state, in order to blunt the rising influence of the backward classes following the implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations.

Anand Mohan Singh’s audacity, no doubt flowing from the political support he received, was such that he could target even high-ranking government officers. In 1994, the District Magistrate of Gopalganj, Krishnayya was returning to his base after attending an official meeting in Hajipur. The vehicle got stranded because a funeral procession of gangster and wannabe politician, Chhotan Shukla, was passing through. Chhotan had been shot dead in what was being said to be a political killing. Anand Mohan Singh and his wife Lovely Anand were among the mourners.

The crowd suddenly turned violent on seeing the official vehicle and attacked it. Some people dragged the hapless officer out of the car and mercilessly beat him. A brother of the deceased then shot Krishnayya dead from close range. According to witnesses, Anand Mohan Singh had egged on Chhotan’s brother in the act. What prompted Anand Mohan Singh to direct his ire at an officer whose jurisdiction was nowhere close to where Chhotan had been killed, and who had no role to play in the act?

According to some people quoted in the media, Anand Mohan Singh wanted to teach the backward class members a lesson. But Krishnayya was not from the backward classes; he came from the Scheduled Castes. Anand Mohan Singh is lodged in jail, but he routinely gets politically high-profile visitors from across the political spectrum.

Like Ansari and Atiq, Anand Mohan Singh also took care in getting his family into politics. In the same year that Krishnayya was murdered, Anand Mohan Singh’s wife Lovely Anand successfully contested a by-election against the wife of Kishori Sinha, one of Bihar’s tall leaders, and it was said that Anand Mohan Singh had managed to garner the upper caste votes in the constituency, cocking a snook at Lalu Prasad Yadav who ruled Bihar then.

Meanwhile, Lovely Anand went from one political party to another—the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, trying her luck.

The story of baahubali politicians would be incomplete without a mention of another don from Bihar, Anant Kumar Singh. From all available accounts, he has been a colourful character. In Mokama, which is close to Patna, he is called Chote Sarkar—a one-man government! According to reports, he keeps a python at home, and also an elephant that is trained to shake people’s hands. In his heyday he looked like the quintessential villain in Hindi films in the seventies and the eighties; with a cigarette dangling from his lips, gaudy clothes, and flashy sunglasses.

According to popular lore, Anant Kumar Singh’s brother, the headman of a village, had been killed by an alleged Maoist sympathizer who swam across the Ganga river that flowed nearby and fled. A young Anant, full of anger, plotted revenge. One day, he swam across the river, finished off the alleged culprit, and returned by the same route, to a hero’s welcome. And when another brother was killed—shot dead by assailants in Barh—Anant Kumar Singh became a full-fledged gangster and don.

Anant Kumar Singh worked with Nitish Kumar for close to eight years, partly because he heartily disliked Lalu Prasad Yadav. But he had a falling out with Nitish Kumar after the chief minister asked the law enforcement authorities to act on the various complaints against the don. The complaints ranged from trying to forcibly acquire properties to severe physical assault and rape. Nitish perhaps might have preferred to let the storm blow over, but the media had become relentless in questioning his Mr. Clean image. Later, Anant Kumar Singh’s wife was given a ticket by, guess, who? The RJD.

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have seen many other mafia dons, who like the ones mentioned above, flourish under the umbrella of one political party or the other. And over, the years, regardless of where they come from, the baahubalis have used a more or less similar modus operandi to gain and sustain prominence.

Their criminal edifice rests on four pillars: Muscle power, caste power, religion power, and regional power. Atiq Ahmed, Mukhtar Ansari and Mohammad Shahabuddin (a dreaded don from Bihar, also called the Saheb of Siwan) played the Muslim card, subtly at times and openly at others, though they had no problems in terrorizing fellow Muslims when it suited them. Anant Kumar Singh and Anand Mohan Singh sought to attract votes in the name of the upper castes while others such as Pappu Yadav used the other backward class’s leverage.

Pappu Yadav, now reformed (a rare case of a reformed muscleman) also kept up the tradition of the baahubali dynast; his wife Ranjeet Ranjan is a mainstream politician and is doing quite well for herself. An interesting story was narrated to this writer by a very senior bureaucrat who had served as the district collector of Purnia, Pappu Yadav’s fiefdom. According to the civil servant, the Purnia police had plotted an encounter with Pappu Yadav back when he had emerged as a don. When top police officials took the collector into confidence, he was aghast and immediately nipped the plan in the bud. ‘But for me, Pappu Yadav would have been encountered many years ago,’ he said.

A good example of a baahubali exploiting regional identity is a one-time Mumbai don, who later got into politics though not with stellar results. His group was the only group that stood up against and gave a fight to the Dawood Ibrahim gang. For a brief while, Arun Gawli received the support of the Shiv Sena, with its senior leaders calling him ‘our boys’— a reference to his Marathi origins. Adding a pinch of religion to this regionalism, a senior Shiv Sena leader remarked, ‘If they have Dawood, we have Gawli.’

The story of the baahubalis as a politician is a disturbing commentary on the direction Indian politics has taken. The mere tackling of an Atiq Ahmed here and an Anand Mohan Singh there will not cleanse Indian politics of the criminalization that has seeped in, right through the roots.


1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

PGurus is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with all the latest news and views

For all the latest updates, download PGurus App.

Rajesh Singh is a Delhi-based senior political commentator and public affairs analyst
Rajesh Singh


  1. A real Bahubali is actually a Mahabali (Maha – Bali)

    A modern day Bahubali is a Weak-Bali

    Eulogizing criminals with big titles – Mahabali or Bahubali or Don or Genius…. is an insult to an educated person / scientists


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here