Know Your Turncoats, Part 11: UP muscleman, son of ‘Bihar’s Gandhi’, Solapur heavyweight

A series looking at the defectors contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh& Sumedha Mittal
Pictures of the turncoats and their party logos on playing cards.

From a Sanskrit activist to kin of former MP — a total of 12 turncoats are in fray in the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls. In parts nine and ten of this series, we looked at the hot seat in Guna and five turncoats in the BJP-led NDA. 

In this part, let’s look at the remaining five turncoats in the fray from the INDIA bloc.    

Guddu Raja Bundela: UP muscleman, granite king, Rs 46 crore assets  

Chandra Bhushan Singh Bundela, popularly known as Guddu Raja Bundela, is the Congress candidate from Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. 

The 50-year-old farmer and businessman was with the Bahujan Samaj Party until September last year, when he joined the Madhya Pradesh Congress unit ahead of the assembly polls. The Bundelkhand muscleman led a convoy of thousands of supporters into Bhopal as joined the party and crossed over from UP to MP politics. 

Bundela, who discontinued formal education after Class 12, has assets worth Rs 46.04 crore.

Earlier, he unsuccessfully contested the UP assembly polls in 2007 and 2012 as a Samajwadi Party candidate. He jumped ship to the BSP on being denied a ticket. He is now contesting from a constituency that has been the BJP stronghold since 1996.

Despite Bundela’s unsuccessful electoral tryst, his family has been politically affluent in the Hindi heartland, with his father and two-time Congress MP Satrap Sujan Singh Bundela known to have been close to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His uncles Puran Singh Bundela and Virendra Singh Bundela have also been MLAs and ministers in the UP government. Both jumped ship from the BJP to the Congress.

The Bundela family is known as the “granite kings” of Bundelkhand, with their companies involved in granite mining activities in the region. The junior Bundela, who discontinued formal education after Class 12, has assets worth Rs 46.04 crore as per his affidavits. It grew dramatically from Rs 13 crore in 2022. 

While he owns a rifle and revolver, he doesn’t own a car, and has liabilities worth Rs 70,000 towards his daughter Khushi Bundela. A criminal case has been lodged against him under section 26 of the Indian Forest Act. And for his Lok Sabha debut, the politician has been using helicopters for his campaign.

Shahnawaz Alam: LLB degree, son of Bihar’s Gandhi, defeated brother 

Shahnawaz Alam is the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s candidate from Bihar’s Araria constituency. He was with the AIMIM earlier.  

The 42-year-old farmer, who holds an LLB degree, has been a two-time MLA. He is the younger son of RJD leader Taslimuddin, once known as the ‘Gandhi’ of Bihar’s Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region. A member of the RJD himself, Shahnawaz also served as the disaster management minister of Bihar.

The 42-year-old farmer, who holds an LLB degree, has been a two-time MLA.

When Taslimuddin died in 2017, the Araria seat fell vacant. Shahnawaz’s older brother Sarfaraz Alam won the constituency in the bypolls. The following year, Shahnawaz won the Jokihat assembly by-election. He subsequently switched to the AIMIM as he was refused a ticket in the assembly polls. This time, Shahnawaz defeated his elder brother from Jokihat.   

But last month, he returned to the RJD along with three other AIMIM MLAs. He is contesting against Pradeep Kumar Singh, the two-time BJP MP from Araria.

Shahnawaz’s assets are worth Rs 2.86 crore as of April 2024, up from Rs 2 crore in 2020.    

Neeraj Maurya: Switched from BSP to BJP to SP, two-time MLA

Neeraj Maurya is the Samajwadi Party candidate from Aonla in Uttar Pradesh. The 55-year-old was with the BJP earlier. In about two decades of his political career, Maurya has had a taste of political parties of all kinds of ideologies – left, right and centre. 

Maurya had switched to the BJP ahead of the 2017 assembly polls in UP.

In 2007 and 2012, as a member of the BSP, Neeraj won twice from Jalalabad assembly constituency. Ahead of the 2017 assembly polls in UP, he switched to the BJP along with two other BSP MLAs, Deepak Patel and Guru Prasad Maurya, and their supporters. 

Five years later, ahead of the 2022 UP assembly polls, he switched loyalties again and joined the SP. During those polls, he was one of many big BJP leaders who jumped ship to rally behind Swami Prasad Maurya, a prominent OBC leader in UP who had joined the SP. SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav hailed the move, saying the “BJP wickets are falling one after the other, but our CM does not know how to play cricket. As Swami Prasad Maurya said wherever he goes, the government is formed. Even this time, he brought a huge number of leaders along with him.” 

Proving Akhilesh wrong, the BJP won the 2022 UP assembly polls too. 

Now, Neeraj Maurya is making his Lok Sabha debut from the BJP’s bastion Aonla against BJP’s Dharmendra Kashyap and BSP’s Abid Ali. He owns assets worth Rs 8.81 crore as of April 2024, up from Rs 80 lakh in 2007.  

Dhairyasheel Mohite Patil: Influential political family, 1 criminal case

Dhairyasheel Mohite Patil is the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar)’s candidate from Madha in Maharashtra. 

The 46-year-old comes from the Mohite-Patil family, who are political heavyweights in the western Maharashtra region. He is the nephew of former deputy chief minister Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil and cousin of BJP legislator Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil. Dhairyasheel served as the BJP’s Madha district general secretary till a few weeks ago and is said to have played a significant role in the victory of sitting BJP MP Ranjeetsinh Naik Nimbalkar.

The Mohite-Patil family runs over 100 schools and over half a dozen professional colleges in Solapur.

Now, Dhairyasheel is in fray against Nimbalkar in Madha. The seat was won by NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the 2009 polls and Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil in the 2014 polls. Dhairyasheel joined the BJP ahead of the 2019 polls. 

The Mohite-Patil family runs over 100 schools, over half a dozen professional colleges and at least three to four sugar factories in the cooperative sector in Solapur. 

Meanwhile, Madhapur has a large number of sugarcane and onion farmers. The constituency has 13 lakh OBC voters, out of which five lakh are Dhangars and three lakh are from the Mali community. 

Dhairyasheel has two cases against him, including one under the Arms Act. His assets are worth Rs 12.66 crore as of April 2024. 

Satyapal Singh Sikarwar: Ousted from BJP, MA psychology  

Satyapal Singh Sikarwar, popularly known as Neetu, is the Congress candidate from Madhya Pradesh’s Morena. The 44-year-old was with the BJP till 2020, and won two assembly polls – in 2013 and 2018 – from Sumawali constituency in Morena district.

Sikarwar has a master’s degree in psychology and was also a PhD candidate.

Sikarwar was expelled from the BJP in 2020 for “being constantly involved in anti-party activities”. He subsequently joined the Congress. His father and former BJP MLA Gajraj Singh Sikarwar is known to have significant political clout in Morena and Gwalior districts. 

However, the Morena constituency is a BJP stronghold, with the party securing it since 1991.  It has a Scheduled Caste population of 20.1 percent, ST 6.4 percent, and Muslim 2.8 percent.

Sikarwar has a master’s degree in psychology and was also a PhD candidate, as per his affidavit. He has assets worth Rs 2.36 crore as of April 2024. 

Also see
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 10: Kin of MP who died by suicide, Sanskrit activist
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 9: A total of 12 turncoats in Phase 3, hot seat in MP’s Guna


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