Everyone knows Raja Bhaiyya, the dreaded don from Uttar Pradesh who earned his first criminal case as a teenager and who has a symbiotic relationship with the prisons either as an inmate or as the minister tasked with running them. But ever heard of Bhaiyya Raja?
A two-term former MLA from the Kama Sutra town of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, 66-year-old Ashok Veer Vikram Singh aka Bhaiyya Raja has been an unchallenged don for decades. Arrested for murder in the 1990s, Bhaiyya Raja decided to fight his first election from prison. He won on a not-so-subtle slogan of Mohar lagegi haathi pe, varna goli chhaati pe (Stamp the elephant or take a bullet on your chest), the elephant being his election symbol. On winning, he rode an elephant to the Assembly. The Indian Mafia, a 1991 book, alleged that he used pythons to terrorise women into sexual acts. It was rumoured that he bred crocodiles that grew fat on the flesh of his dead rivals. On 31 May, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2009 murder of a grandniece who he sexually exploited and forced to undergo an abortion. Is his political career over? Yes and no. Bhaiyya Raja’s wife, Asha Rani, is still a BJP MLA, though she is accused of abetting a woman’s suicide at her home six years ago. She is currently free on bail.