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Raghunath Jha's profile

Raghunath Jha entered active politics in 1960s as a Socialist before switching over to Congress, Janata Party, RJD, JD-U and finally rejoining Lalu Prasad's party.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2008 19:56 IST

A shrewd politician, Raghunath Jha has seen it all. The Brahmin face of RJD in the Lok Sabha, he entered active politics in 1960s as a Socialist before switching over to Congress, Janata Party, RJD, JD-U and finally rejoining Lalu Prasad's party.

An ardent follower of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, the 69-year-old Jha remained a member of Socialist Party till 1972 before switching over to Congress and successfully contesting the assembly elections from Sheohar.

He represented the constituency in 1972, 1977 and 1980 on Congress ticket and became a minister in the erstwhile Jagannath Mishra ministry in Bihar.

As he paraded in favour of Mishra before the Raj Bhavan in 1985 in support of the latter's candidature for the post of chief minister and ouster of the then chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad, Jha was denied re nomination from Sheohar for "disobeying" the Congress leadership.

Jha then resigned from the Congress' primary membership and secured a Janata Party ticket when Chandra Shekhar was its president. He won the elections to the Sheohar assembly seat for the fourth time in a row.

After merger of former prime minister V P Singh's Jan Morcha, Janata Party and Lok Dal of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal in Bangalore in 1988, Jha was made the state president of Janata Dal in Bihar.

But his relations with Singh was going well and he was removed from the post in three months. A few months after his removal, Jha was made chairman of the party's parliamentary board in Bihar following Chandra Shekhar's intervention.

He was pitted as chief ministerial candidate against Lalu Prasad and former chief minister Ramsunder Das by Chandra Shekhar in a triangular contest in 1990 but lost.

Only 18 MLAs voted in favour of Jha as Lalu became the chief minister.

Jha was made a minister with important portfolios of agriculture, land and revenue and parliamentary affairs and held them for over seven years.

He extended support to Lalu when a non-bailable warrant of arrest was pending against the latter in the multi- crore fodder scam in 1997.

Then there was a split in the Janata Dal as its senior leaders, including Sharad Yadav and others mounted pressure on Lalu to resign from the chief minister's post in 1997 on moral grounds in the wake of the warrant. Lalu then floated his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in New Delhi.

But Jha's differences with Lalu grew as the former was denied a party.

Left with no options other than resigning from the RJD's primary membership, Jha joined the JD-U in 1998 and successfully contested the parliamentary polls from Gopalganj constituency.

After a rapprochement, Jha rejoined RJD in 2004 and became its Lok Sabha member from Bettiah.

Considered a close friend of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Jha's son Ajit Kumar Jha is now an MLA from Sheohar.

Jha, an Arts graduate, hails from village Ambakala under Piprahi block in Sheohar.