Raghuvansh Prasad Singh: Lalu’s brother-in-arms, first mover of NREGA, is not any extra

Written by Ravish Tiwari
, Santosh Singh
| New Delhi |

September 14, 2020 5:00:12 am

Singh’s relationship with Lalu, which lasted 32 years after the demise of Karpoori Thakur, began fraying with Lalu in jail and his sons taking cost of the RJD affairs.

On April 17, 1999, in the course of the dialogue on the vote of confidence moved by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, members entered right into a heated argument on whether or not then Orissa CM Giridhar Gamang, who had not give up his Lok Sabha seat, may vote.

It was a easy rule cited by Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, RJD chief and a second-term Lok Sabha member, that proved to be the clincher: after the Speaker has put a movement to vote, he mentioned, the voting takes priority over another matter. Bound by this rule, Speaker GMC Balayogi left it to the conscience of Gamang. Gamang voted in opposition to the movement and the Vajpayee authorities misplaced — by a single vote.

That was Raghuvansh Prasad Singh — a real socialist chief who, although by no means often called an orator or speaker, managed to draw the eye of his ideological fellow travellers and his political adversaries for his plainspeak on points that he selected to champion. On Sunday, Singh, 74, died at AIIMS in New Delhi. He had been affected by well being issues following his restoration from Covid-19. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

In a message on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned, “Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s demise has created a void not simply in Bihar politics however in nationwide politics. He had been sad (along with his occasion) and had additionally written to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to boost sure calls for. Nitishji and I ought to fulfil them.”

A socialist by political coaching, Singh learnt most of his political activism from Lohiaite socialist chief Karpoori Thakur in whose authorities he labored after getting elected to the Bihar Assembly. Until 1996, when he was first elected to the Lok Sabha, Singh remained confined to state politics.

Singh not solely backed Lalu Prasad Yadav when it got here to the query of who would inherit Karpoori Thakur’s legacy, however caught to Lalu’s model of laborious secularism at the same time as his fellow travellers — George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav and Nitish — parted methods to align with the BJP-led NDA in subsequent years.

His determination to stay to Lalu was not solely ideological but additionally a sensible one for his future politics. Though he had been lively in state politics because the Emergency. Singh was by no means a mass chief and subsequently, relied on Lalu’s mass base to maintain himself politically afloat.

While he had no hesitation in admitting to Lalu’s mass enchantment, he didn’t mince phrases whereas cautioning the RJD chief of the bounds of his caste politics. He did so largely in his non-public conversations with occasion leaders and journalists, totally conscious that his phrases will attain Lalu’s ears.

“Laluji used to say ‘Socialey issue se hum raaj kar lenge!’, however that was to not be,” Singh had informed The Indian Express throughout an Idea Exchange programme in October 2007.

His warnings on the constraints of caste coalition politics got here true within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in UP, when the SP-BSP coalition didn’t halt the BJP. Singh himself misplaced the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, burdened by Lalu’’s ‘social issue’ method.

It was a method that failed within the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as properly, when Lalu ditched the Congress and allied with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, solely to undergo a humiliating defeat and find yourself dropping the seat on the UPA-II desk. Though Singh was re-elected in 2009, he couldn’t be accommodated within the UPA-II authorities regardless of his equation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

Singh had earned their goodwill from his document as Rural Development Minister in UPA-I, throughout which he acquired certainly one of India’s most formidable rights-based welfare laws, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, off the bottom.

He lived the lifetime of a socialist dissenter and remained dedicated to his rules, generally at nice private price. He wouldn’t hesitate to spill the beans of Cabinet deliberations, as an illustration, when he believed that the curiosity of the business was gaining extra consideration than socialist calls for.

Though Lalu and Singh had a number of variations of opinion, the RJD chief all the time bounced his main political selections off Singh, figuring out totally properly that it could not get his approval. He was eager on getting Singh’s stamp of ethical authority on his selections. This was additionally Lalu’s approach of holding Singh in good humour whereas having his personal approach.

Singh, on his half, knew that as chief, Lalu needed to take dangers and his job was to abide by his selections as soon as taken.

In an emotional farewell to his long-time buddy, Lalu tweeted on Sunday, “Dear Raghuvansh Babu, what have you ever completed? I simply informed you the day earlier than yesterday that you’re not going anyplace. But you went thus far. I’m speechless and unhappy. You will all the time be in my reminiscences.”

Singh’s relationship with Lalu, which lasted 32 years after the demise of Karpoori Thakur, began fraying with Lalu in jail and his sons taking cost of the RJD affairs.

His disillusionment on the approach Lalu’s kids have been attempting to steer the RJD away from the Karpoori Thakur legacy grew to become obvious when, a number of months in the past, Singh resigned as occasion vice-president. On Thursday, he mentioned in a two-line handwritten letter he wrote to Lalu from his hospital mattress: “I stood behind you for 32 years after the demise of Jannayak Karpoori Thakur. Not any longer.”

The RJD chief replied in his personal hand, writing in Hindi from a hospital in Ranchi: “…I can’t consider (that you’ve got resigned from the RJD). My household and I need you to get better quick, and to see you standing amongst us. For the final 4 many years, we now have sat collectively to make political, social, and even household selections collectively. You ought to first get better, and we will then discuss it out. You are usually not going anyplace. I’m telling you.”

Singh left. It was his ultimate act of dissent.

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