RJD bets on a Rajput as its Bihar unit chief, a first in party’s history
In a significant development, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Monday paved the way for the elevation of an upper caste leader as its new Bihar unit president in party veteran and former water resources minister Jagdanand Singh, who is set to replace incumbent Ramchandra Purve, who has served three consecutive terms.
Purve belongs to the Vaishya community while Singh is a Rajput.
The tenure of RJD’s state unit president is three years. This is the first time that an upper caste will be appointed to the post.
Though a formal announcement is slated for November 27, Singh was the only one to file his nominations papers for the post on the last day on Monday in the presence of Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav. The declaration regarding his unanimous election to the post at the state council meeting on Wednesday remains a mere formality.
With this, the two splinter groups of the old Janata parivar — (JD-U) led by chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD other by Lalu Prasad — will have leaders from the same community (Rajput) crossing swords with each other in the ensuing electoral battle during 2020 assembly polls.
The JD-U’s state president Vashishth Narayan Singh too is a Rajput.
The last-minute move by the RJD is being viewed as a great departure for the party that positions itself as the champion of weaker and downtrodden sections of society with its social engineering formula.
Recently, the RJD had announced 45% quota for extremely backward classes and dalits on party positions to reclaim and regroup its support base at the grassroots level by creating their stake in the well-being of the party fortunes.
However, its worst ever drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the wake of its open opposition to 10% quota for economically weaker sections of the upper caste could be a reason behind its attempt to recalibrate its positioning.
The Leader of Opposition exuded optimism that the decision would yield positive results during the assembly polls. “Singh is my guardian and is aware of the trials and tribulations through which the party has traversed through its inception. I have said it time and again that RJD is a party which represents interests of all sections. We have been fighting for their cause. I believe that 2020 will be a memorable year in party’s electoral fortunes,” Tejashwi Yadav said.
Soft-spoken academician-turned-politician Purve, who is one of the founding members of RJD, congratulated Singh and said he had urged party chief Lalu Prasad to consider the name of the former Buxar MP in the present context.
The RJD has been suffering electoral reverses ever since Lalu’s incarceration in cases related to fodder scam and also because there was no father figure to douse the sibling rivalry in the first family that also took a serious toll on the loyalty and morale of party workers.
After filing his nomination papers in four sets, which had the names of Rabri Devi and Tejashwi as proposers, Singh said party chief Lalu Prasad had always backed the idea for an equitable society and the Leader of Opposition would ensure it is achieved in the true sense.
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