September 25, 2020

MBA from Australia to alleged riot instigator: Bihar’s Arijit Shashwat

NEW DELHI: Union Minister Ashwini Choubey’s son, Arijit Shashwat made a failed attempt to enter politics in 2015 from his father’s strong-hold seat of Bhagalpur, losing the election. After completing an MBA from Australia’s Southern Cross University and leaving a cushy job to try inherit his father’s political legacy, Shashwat is now in custody for his alleged act of instigating a riot in Bihar’s Bhagalpur and surrendered in dramatic fashion on Saturday night after eluding police for several days.

Ashwini Choubey has been a four-time MLA from Bhagalpur from 1995 to 2014 till he won as an MP from Buxar. His son contested in his maiden election in 2015 on a BJP ticket from Bhagalpur but lost to Congress’s Ajeet Sharma, who was a joint candidate of the JDU-RJD-INC alliance. “This is Shashwat’s attempt to return to political discourse in Bihar with BJP indulging in full-scale polarisation…he has been in the wilderness since the humiliating loss on his father’s seat,” a senior RJD leader in the state told ET.

The 37-year-old has no prior criminal history and no FIR against him and since 2015. He has been dabbling in various businesses like IT and a motorcycle dealership in Bhagalpur. He also has a engineering degree from Ranchi, a profile that does not fit with his alleged conduct during a procession a fortnight ago.

The facts of the incident so far show that it was Shashwat who had asked for permission from the district administration to take out a procession on Hindu New Year Day last month, and the said permission was denied. The police FIR says the procession was still led by Shashwat on March 17 into a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in Bhagalpur and slogans like ‘Hindustan Mein Rehna Hoga to Jai Sri Ram Kehna Hoga’ and ‘Topi Wale Bhi Bolenge Jai Sri Ram’ were shouted next to a mosque.

Shashwat denies he shouted any slogan. The incident led to rioting in Bhagalpur and since then communal violence has been reported from various other parts of Bihar like Samastipur and Nalanda, piling up pressure on the Nitish Kumar government to act against such polarisation attempts by his alliance partner BJP. After his pleas for anticipatory bail were rejected, Shashwat surrendered before the police near a temple last midnight, wearing garlands and with his supporters shouting ‘Jai Sri Ram’ slogans.

Union Minister Ashwani Choubey had termed the FIR against his son a “bundle of lies”, a statement that has not gone down well with the JDU led by Nitish Kumar.

Courtesy: ET Bureau

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