Know Your Turncoats, Part 16: Bengal’s party hopper, 2 in Shinde camp, Bihar hot seat

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

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh
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Of the 15 turncoats contesting in phase five of the Lok Sabha polls, eight are in the BJP-led NDA and six in the INDIA bloc. 

In the previous part of this series, Newslaundry delved into the trajectory of four NDA turncoats, including two who switched sides to Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena after the Enforcement Directorate’s whip.    

In this part, we look at five turncoats – two in the Shinde camp, a frequent flipper fielded by the BJP in West Bengal and a turncoats’ hot seat in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. 

Arjun Singh: Serial party hopper, BJP to TMC to BJP, 93 criminal cases 

Arjun Singh is the BJP’s candidate from West Bengal’s Barrackpore. The 62-year-old is infamous as a “serial party hopper” and has switched sides at least four times in his nearly three-decade political career.   

The controversial leader is the son of three-time Congress MLA from Bhatpara Satyanarayan Singh. He too began his political career with the Congress in 1995 but jumped ship to the TMC two years later. He remained with the Mamata Banerjee-led party for the next 22 years and switched allegiance to the BJP ahead of the 2019 polls after being denied a ticket by the TMC. 

Until his successful contest with a BJP ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha, Singh had won the Bhatpara assembly seat four times and recorded a defeat in the 2004 general elections. 

After his defection, he allegedly faced the ire of angry TMC workers and also claimed that the state police had booked him under a series of cases to “harass him”. The Supreme Court then granted him protection against arrest, days before the 2019 counting. The TMC workers then allegedly attacked his house by pelting stones and firing petrol bombs.  

Months later, Singh sustained a head injury allegedly in a clash between the BJP and the TMC workers. Next year, he again claimed that he was attacked by TMC workers. But in 2022, he joined the TMC, following “differences” with the BJP state leadership.

About 20 months after he severed ties with the BJP, he is again back with the saffron party, and has added “Modi ka pariwar” to his X name. He has also been posting about “TMC goons”, but not long ago he was reposting Mamata Banerjee’s tweets about the Modi government “killing farmers”. 

Recently, he also said that the TMC “betrayed” him, as he was again denied a ticket. Now, he has also filed a case against the state police over “surveillance”. 

The businessman-politician, who has studied till class 12, has assets worth over Rs 2.74 crore, a significant increase from Rs 48 lakh in 2016. There are a total of 93 cases against him, including cheating, criminal intimidation and attempted murder.

Hemant Godse: Viral video row, ECI notice, Sena vs Sena 

Hemant Godse is the Shiv Sena Shinde faction’s candidate from Nashik in Maharashtra. The 53-year-old joined electoral politics as Nashik zila parishad in 2007 and unsuccessfully contested his first Lok Sabha polls two years later with a ticket from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The MNS was formed by Uddhav’s cousin and rebel Shiv Sena leader Raj Thackeray.

In the 2014 general elections, however, Godse swept the Nashik seat, defeating NCP stalwart and former deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal. He again won the seat in the 2019 polls against senior Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer Bhujbal. Godse sided with Ekanth Shinde after the 2022 split. Now, the two Bhujbals and Godse are in the Mahayuti camp, and the incumbent MP is set to contest against UBT’s Raja Bhau Vaje. Both Godse and Vaje come from politically dominant communities, however, Godse has come under fire from onion and grape farmers over the NDA’s policies. 

Two months before the ongoing polls, a video purportedly of Godse and a woman went viral on social media. The politician then filed a defamation suit. Now, days ahead of polling, the election commission has sent a notice to Godse over discrepancies in reported expenditure. 

The builder and agriculturist’s assets doubled over the past five years – from Rs 8 crore in 2019 to Rs 16 crore in April this year. He has no pending criminal cases. 

Shrikant Shinde: Medical practitioner, MP, Eknath Shinde’s son  

Dr Shrikant Shinde is Eknath Shinde’s son and the Shinde camp’s Lok Sabha candidate from Kalyan in Maharashtra. The 37-year-old is an MBBS and has done masters in orthopedics. The medical practitioner jumped into electoral politics in the final year of graduation in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He again won from Kalyan in the 2019 polls.

The MP defected from Shiv Sena to side with his father and is now set to contest UBT’s Vaishali Dabekar Rane. Over a decade of his political career, the DY Patil alumni has been in the news for “getting funds sanctioned” for roads, initiating renovation of government hospitals and starting “One Rupee Clinic” in Kalyan during the Covid crisis. 

Shinde junior has been under fire from the opposition after the Shiv Sena split, while the MP has also been targeting former ally Aditya Thackeray, calling him a “future teller” and raising questions on his “upbringing” over his remarks against Eknath Shinde.   

The medical practitioner-businessman-politician’s assets have increased from Rs 9 lakh in 2014 to Rs 14.92 crore in April this year. He has no pending criminal cases.     

Muzaffarpur: Nishad vs Nishad in turncoats hot seat

In Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, the BJP has fielded Raj Bhushan Chaudhary, who also goes by the name Raj Bhushan Nishad, and the Congress candidate is Ajay Kumar Nishad. While Raj Bhushan joined the BJP from the Vikassheel Insaan Party in 2022, incumbent MP Ajay Kumar defected from the BJP in April 2024 after being denied a ticket.  

The 46-year-old Raj Bhushan’s former party VIP is known for garnering support from the Nishad community. However, he lost to 57-year-old Ajay Nishad in the 2019 polls, by more than 4.10 lakh votes. 

Kumar, son of former minister Jai Narain Prasad Nishad, was earlier with the RJD and unsuccessfully contested two assembly polls from Kurhani and Sahebganj. After joining the BJP, he won the Muzaffarpur seat twice – in both the 2014 and 2019 polls. The two-time MP said he felt “betrayed” over denial of ticket and wasted no time to the Congress. The INDIA bloc is eyeing the votes of the most backward caste voters in the region. 

Raj Bhushan, who is a doctor by profession, has assets worth Rs 16.68 crore as of April 2024, up from Rs 8 crore in 2019. He has no pending criminal cases. Meanwhile, Ajay Kumar’s assets grew from Rs 14 crore in 2014 to Rs 29 crore in April this year. He has one criminal case related to attempted murder.

Also see
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 15: NDA has 53% defectors in phase 5; 2 in Shinde camp after ED whip
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 14: Telangana’s triangular contests, Andhra MP linked to ‘liquor scam’
article imageKnow Your Turncoats, Part 13: In Maharashtra’s 7, Ajit loyalist who joined Pawar Sr, MP with Rs 105 cr


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