A tale of power, politics & prosperity of the Sahu family

Ranchi: The recovery of astonishing undisclosed wealth, put at Rs 300 crore, at the premises linked to Congress MP Dheeraj Prasad Sahu has brought into the limelight the Sahu family of Lohardaga, which has been cash-rich for a long time and called shots in the corridors of power, particularly in Chotanagpur for decades.

Having a long-standing association with the Congress since Independence, the Sahu family, to which Dheeraj Prasad Sahu belongs, has been in the country liquor business for over 60 years. They have a significant liquor business in Odisha under the name of Baldeo Sahu and Group of Companies. This company, originally from the Lohardaga district of Jharkhand, started making country liquor in Odisha 40 years ago. Late Baldeo Sahu
Baldeo Sahu migrated from Obra in Aurangabad district to Lohardaga in undivided Bihar and started a transport and liquor business.

Later on, the transport business was passed on to his brother Balram Sahu, whose sons are settled in Daltonganj. Dheeraj Sahu, who happens to be the youngest of the six sons of Baldeo Sahu, has been a Rajya Sabha MP for three consecutive terms. He entered politics in 1977. He was involved in the Lohardaga District Youth Congress.

He has also contested elections from the Chatra Lok Sabha seat twice on a Congress ticket but was not successful. He first became a Rajya Sabha MP in the June 2009 bye-election, then for the second time in July 2010, and for the third time in 2018. He has been a member of many committees of Parliament. He also enjoyed cordial relations with the then Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal during the UPA regime.

Dheeraj Sahu declared assets totalling Rs 34.83 crore in his 2018 Rajya Sabha election affidavit. He stated movable assets worth Rs 2.04 crore and listed luxury cars, including a Range Rover, Fortuner, BMW, and Pajero. The assets of his family are located across the country.

The liquor business is run by Baldev Sahu and Group of Companies, a partnership firm of Buddhist Distillery Private Limited (BDPL). This company also has Baldeo Sahu Infra Private Limited, Quality Bottlers Private Limited and Kishore Prasad Vijay Prasad Beverage Private Limited. According to a classmate of Dheeraj Sahu in Lohardaga, the late Baldeo Sahu spread his liquor business (locally known as kalali) to Odisha and Bengal, but this trade, during that time, was not considered a respectable one in Lohardaga. “So much so that no local Brahmin was ready to conduct rituals at his house till 1980 or other respectable locals avoided having food at his house. He had to bring a Brahmin from Varanasi for rituals,” he recalled.

Shiv Prasad Sahu Dheeraj Sahu’s eldest brother Shiv Prasad Sahu was more famous. He was an MP from Ranchi twice and enjoyed good relations with Indira Gandhi, who as prime minister visited Lohardaga in 1972. Late Sahu is said to have contributed generously to the PM relief fund during the Indo-Pak war in 1972.

Shiv Prasad Sahu was instrumental in the creation of Lohardaga as a district in 1983 when Jagannath Mishra was Bihar’s chief minister. Lohardaga is the least populous of the 24 districts in Jharkhand.
Earlier, the then President Rajendra Prasad had also visited the Sahu family in 1958. It was said that during the period it was the Sahu family alone who owned a car in Lohardaga and offered it as a privilege to be used by any VVIP during a trip to the area.

Gopal Sahu Another elder brother Gopal Sahu was earlier the treasurer of the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee. Gopal Sahu also holds the record for being president of Ranchi Club for nine terms.

Nandlal Sahu Dheeraj Sahu’s other elder brother Nandlal Sahu had many friends in Bollywood. Jalal Agha was his contemporary at Scindia School. Their friendship continued even after school. Late Agha once visited his farmhouse in the seventies and the rural life in Lohardaga enamoured him so much so that he fell in love with the place and finally started making a movie called Nirvana in 1980. The film, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar and Sarika was completed in three years. The entire star cast camped in the farmhouse on two occasions for one to two months duration.

Sahu’s family also owns Hotel Arya, the state’s biggest cold storage, and a Maruti showroom. It has also interest in farming, particularly the cultivation of roses. The liquor business in Odisha is run by his two nephews and son.

Present politics

Dheeraj Sahu is also said to be wielding enormous influence in selecting Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha candidates in Lohardaga, Gumla and Chatra districts.

He is said to have forced former Congress president Sukhdev Bhagat to quit the party and join the BJP in the 2019 Assembly elections from Lohardaga. Instead, he threw his weight behind Rameshwar Oraon, IPS officer-turned-politician. Oraon, a resident of Palamu, won the seat and is now the Finance Minister in the Hemant Soren government.

According to a Congressman, several leaders eyeing president’s post and other key positions go to the high command through Dheeraj Sahu.

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