Nitish Kumar steps down as JD(U) president, hands over charge to RCP Singh
In a surprise move, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar stepped down as national president of the Janata Dal (United) on Sunday and handed over the reins of the party to former bureaucrat turned politician, R C P Singh on Sunday.
Singh, a second-term Rajya Sabha MP, is a close associate of Nitish Kumar and has been actively carrying on the JD (U) organizational work ever since he became an MP in 2010 after taking voluntary retirement from service that year. He was the general secretary of the party before his elevation as its president.
His name for the post was proposed by Kumar himself and party office-bearers unanimously seconded it. “Nitish Kumar ji decided to relinquish the post of party president and proposed the name of RCP Singh for the same, following which Singh has been elected as new party chief for next three years,” said party principal general secretary K C Tyagi.
Kumar’s term as JD (U) national president was to end in 2022 after his re-election as party chief in 2019. He cited one man, one post principle for stepping down, people familiar with the development said..
Party sources said that Kumar surprised everybody by announcing in the national executive meeting that it was not right for a person to hold both posts of president and chief minister. He said that party will move forward under the leadership under Singh.
Singh, now a Rajya Sabha MP for a second term, is better known by his initials, RCP and maintains a low profile. He takes over the reins of the party at a time when the JD (U) performed below par in Bihar assembly elections.
An UP cadre IAS officer, Singh first came in contact with Nitish Kumar when he was posted as private secretary to then Union minister Beni Prasad Verma in 1996. Kumar and Singh are said to have bonded over the fact that both come from Nalanda in Bihar and are Kurmi (as was Verma). Nitish Kumar is also said to have been impressed with Singh’s acumen as a bureaucrat.
When Nitish Kumar became Union railway minister, Singh became his special secretary, later following him through his various portfolios.
After Kumar became CM in November 2005, Singh moved to Bihar. He came to play a key role in postings, and as the CM’s principal secretary, was seen as his voice. Soon, Singh’s influence extended to the JD(U) as well.
In his presidential address at the national executive, Singh said that it was an emotional moment for him. “I have been associated with Nitish Kumar ji since 1998. I will try to work to his expectations for the faith that he has shown in me,” he said.
The scars of developments in Arunachal Pradesh, where six JD (U) MLAs defected to BJP, was clearly visible during the national executive, with Singh himself obliquely criticizing the saffron party.
“Nitishji has been running the alliance in Bihar since 2005 and it was due to his work that BJP was able to increase its strike rate in 2010. We don’t betray, neither cheat nor conspire against anybody. We are not demoralized but will work with more zeal to expand our organisation,” Singh said in his address.
K C Tyagi was more forthcoming in his criticism of the BJP.
“We express anguish over six JD (U) MLAs from Arunachal Pradesh joining Bharatiya Janata Party. This is not a good sign for alliance politics. We work with honesty with all,” said Tyagi. He, however, added that the Arunachal Pradesh developments will have no impact on alliance in Bihar.
Tyagi announced that the JD (U) would be contesting the West Bengal polls with full vigour.