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RJD leader quits, Lalu says ‘you aren’t leaving’

PUBLISHED ON SEP 11, 2020 12:11 AM IST

PATNA: Senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh resigned from the party on a bitter note on Thursday, more than two months after quitting as its national vice president, stoking speculation that he could join the ruling Janata Dal ( United) ahead of upcoming assembly polls in Bihar.

Singh, 74, sent a handwritten resignation letter addressed to RJD chief Lalu Prasad. The veteran socialist leader is undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit unit of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi for some recent ailments. Copies of the letter were distributed to media outlets by his aides. Attempts to reach him on the phone through his close aides in Delhi were unsuccessful.

“ Yes, Raghuvansh ji has resigned from the RJD. It is confirmed ,” said Ashok Singh, an aide to the former member of Parliament.

Hours after Singh quit the party, RJD chief Lalu Prasad responded in a statement issued by the party. “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 is still making last ditch attempts to mollify Singh and keep him in the party.

RJD state spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwary declined to comment on Singh’s exit.

In his letter, Singh expressed his pain over leaving the party, underlining his socialist background, loyalty to and long association with the RJD chief. “ I have stood solidly behind you for 32 years after the death of Jannayak Karpoori Thakur. But not anymore. I have received lots of affection from the party, supporters and people. Forgive me,” he wrote.

The exit of Singh is seen as a setback for the RJD, which has been trying to patch up with the five- term Vaishali MP and prominent Rajput face after he opposed the imminent induction of another former MP, Rama Singh. Rama Singh also is a strong Rajput leader from Vaishali.

Singh, who held the rural development ministry in the first term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, steering its flagship rural jobs guarantee scheme, has been upset with the RJD leadership for many reasons, including the denial of a Rajya Sabha berth after he lost the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary polls.

The appointment of another Rajput leader and former MP, Jagdanand Singh, as RJD’s state president last year did not go down well with Singh, who also opposed the RJD’s decision to project of leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, Lalu Prasad’s son, as the CM face.

People familiar with the situation in RJD said the veteran socialist’s decision to quit the party has much to do with the likely induction of Rama Singh in the coming days;he may have realised that staying put in the party could undermine his stature in his own home turf and in the party hierarchy, the people said, requesting anonymity.

Singh’s decision to exit from the RJD triggered speculation about his next course of action. The political grapevine is abuzz that he may join the JD(U) and could be offered a Rajya Sabha berth or made a member of the legislative council from the governor’s quota in the coming days. There is also speculation that Singh could be made chairman of the Bihar legislative council. Awadhesh Narain Singh is acting chairman of the council.

The possibility of Singh joining the National Democratic Alliance was evident from the reactions of JD(U) and its partner in the Bihar government, the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP).

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

BJP’s state spokesperson Nikhil Anand said Singh was a very respected leader of the state but had been insulted by the RJD. “ Singh commands respect across all parties. But the veteran socialist was insulted by the RJD, which used him for long and then dumped him.”

D M Diwakar, a political observer and former director of the A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies in Patna, said the veteran socialist was unlikely to leave the RJD, noting that his resignation had not been accepted and Lalu Prasad had made a fervent appeal to his old-time colleague to stay in the party.

“I still feel Raghuvansh would go nowhere and stay in the RJD. This I say because Raghuvansh has played principled politics all his life and raised issues, no matter if it has offended the party’s top leaders. He is not one who believes in opportunistic politics and there is no party which is free from certain shortcomings or faults,” Diwakar said.

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