As if it would prove as a recipe for disaster nobody in the National Democratic Alliance in the poll-bound Bihar is daring to utter these three words: Sushant Singh Rajput. Neither the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi nor the central leaders of the BJP, including its national president J P Nadda, the in-charge for Bihar, Bhupendra Yadav or former CM of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, who is supervising the Assembly poll for the party, has made any reference in election rallies to what had happened to the Bihar-born actor four months back.
This is in total contrast to what the two leading ruling parties of Bihar, the Janata Dal United and Bharatiya Janata Party did immediately after the death of the actor on June 14 last. Their leaders and spokespersons creamed ‘murder’ and vowed to make it an election issue. They see in it as a great conspiracy even though all the political parties were unanimous that there should be an independent probe into what had happened.
The leader of opposition in Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, even called on the father of the late actor in Patna. Cine-star and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha too sought a thorough investigation into the matter. The Nitish Kumar government was quick to recommend a CBI inquiry into the matter. The then director general of Bihar Police, Gupteshwar Pandey then took over the responsibility from the NDA leaders.
He started sounding like a spokesman of the ruling combination of Bihar. He lashed out at the Maharashtra Police for shielding the real culprits. He soon became the darling of some television channels, who were baying for the blood of actress Rhea Chakravarty, said to be close to Sushant during his life time. For over 100 days and nights most of the channels remained totally pre-occupied with the news related to Sushant.
All sorts of allegations and abuses were hurled on Bollywood stars and opposition leaders. Soon the drug angle too was discovered. Needless to explain in detail as to how actress Kangana Ranaut and actor Ravi Kishan jumped into this verbal duel and campaign against the Maharashtra government and the film world.
Gupteshwar, who initially emerged as a hero, suddenly took voluntary retirement from the Indian Police Service, on September 22– second time in his career. Four days later he was ushered into the ruling Janata Dal United by none else but Bihar chief minister and the party supremo, Nitish Kumar.
Then the bad news started pouring in. The AIIMS forensic team found no sign of murder of Sushant. The CBI too failed to find any concrete evidence though it clarified that the investigation is still on. The by-product of this whole sinister media trial was the unearthing of the ugly TRP scandal involving some top private channels. It was quite evident from the very beginning that the ruling NDA wanted to make the political capital of the whole issue ahead of the Bihar Assembly election even when there was absolutely no scope for it as the opposition parties too were in favour of a probe.
The NDA bigwigs were fully aware that this would be the best ploy to distract the attention of the common masses from the burning issues the opposition parties have been raising. As the proverb goes “When Rome was burning Nero was fiddling”, when the country was in the grip of Corona Virus which took a heavy toll of lives and devastated the economy the TV channels and the ruling alliance leaders were arguing as to how an actor was ‘murdered’.
Now that four months later nothing could come out and Gupteshwar Pandey could not get the Janata Dal United ticket to contest election there is complete silence over the whole Sushant episode. It was once again the same BJP which denied Gupteshwar the opportunity to fight election. Gupteshwar had taken VRS in 2009 to contest Lok Sabha election on the BJP ticket from his home turf of Buxar. But the BJP rejected his demand. Months later he withdrew his VRS application and rejoined the IPS. Today when election campaign is at its peak Nitish and his whole band are silent over the issue of Sushant as they are aware that any such misadventure may cost the NDA dearly.
Gupteshwar has been left in the lurch and has become the laughing stock of the world. After the Buxar Assembly seat went to the BJP he is arguing that he had not taken VRS to contest election. Sushant’s family members, especially his cousin, Neeraj Kumar Babloo, the BJP legislator , are an embarrassed lot as the whole four months long episode exposed what kind of man the tractor was. This is the last thing which in the normal circumstances the close relatives want the world to know.
(Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna. The views are personal.)