Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.(HT photo)
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.(HT photo)

‘You are not going anywhere’: Lalu Yadav to leader who quit after 32 years

Speculations are rife that Singh could join the ruling JD (U) ahead of the assembly polls in Bihar due next month
Hindustan Times, Patna | By Anirban Guha Roy
UPDATED ON SEP 10, 2020 08:09 PM IST

Former Union minister Raghuvnash Prasad Singh, 74, on Thursday quit the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) amid speculation that he could join the ruling Janata Dal ( United), or JD (U), ahead of the assembly polls in Bihar due next month. In a handwritten note to jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Singh said he was pained over leaving the party and sought his forgiveness.

A little later, RJD chief Lalu Prasad responded to the development in a statement issued by the party, telling the leader “he is not going anywhere”.

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Singh cited his socialist background, loyalty, and long association with Prasad in the note. “I have stood solidly behind you for 32 years after the death of [former Bihar chief minister] Jannayak Karpoori Thakur. But not anymore. I have received lots of affection from the party, supporters, and people. Forgive me,” Singh wrote in the note from New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he is undergoing treatment.

Singh’s aides circulated the note in the media.

Singh, a five-time member of Parliament from Vaisali and a prominent upper caste Rajput face in RJD, could not be contacted despite efforts to reach him on phone through his close aides.

Ashok Singh, one of the aides, confirmed Singh’s resignation. “Yes, Raghuvansh ji has resigned from the RJD. It is confirmed,” he said,

RJD spokesman, Mritunjay Tiwary, refused to comment on Singh’s exit.

“One letter written by you is circulating in the media. I cannot believe it. Me, my family and the RJD family want to see you recover soon. We will talk after you recover. You are not going anywhere. Just mind it,” Yadav said.

The RJD chief ‘s statement underlines how the RJD still is making last ditch attempts to mollify Singh and keep him in the party.

Lalu’s party has been trying to mend fences with Singh since he has been upset with the party’s over several issues including the denial of a Rajya Sabha berth following his loss in 2014 and 2019 national polls. Singh has opposed RJD’s decision to project Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate. He has argued that any decision on the candidate should be taken after consulting all allies in the RJD-led coalition.

RJD functionaries said Singh’s decision to quit has much to do with the likely induction of Rama Singh into the party. The former Union minister has expressed displeasure over the induction. Rama Singh is a former Parliament member and also a Rajput leader from Vaisali. His induction is seen as part of RJD’s attempt to woo Rajputs. The appointment of another Rajput leader Jagdanand Singh as RJD’s state president last year did also not go down well with the former Union minister.

Raghuvnash Prasad Singh steered the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme during his tenure as the rural development minister in the first term of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2005.

His exit from the RJD triggered speculation that he may join the JD(U) and could be offered a Rajya Sabha berth or made a member of Bihar’s legislative council and later nominated as its chairman later. Awadhesh Narain Singh is currently the acting chairman of the council.

JD (U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh said the RJD could not give respect to one of the prominent socialist leaders of Bihar though the party talks about protecting the dignity of the masses. “I salute Singh for leaving the RJD which is stuck in the quagmire of arrogance and corruption.”

BJP’s state spokesman, Nikhil Anand, called Singh a very respectable leader, whom the RJD insulted. “Singh commands respect across all parties. But the veteran socialist was insulted by the RJD which used him for long and then dumped him.”

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