With the Bihar assembly polls approaching, the rumblings within the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have become more audible with senior party leader and former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh firing a fresh salvo at the party’s top leadership by asserting he would leave the party in case his rival and Vaishali strongman Rama Singh is inducted into the party.
“I have tendered my resignation from the post of vice president as a protest against the proposed induction of Singh. I have not withdrawn it and will not compromise on it. They have put his induction on hold but not taken any final decision. But, if the party ever inducts him, I will go a different way and quit the party,” Singh told Hindustan Times, over phone from his house in Vaishali.
The veteran RJD leader, 75, recovering after battling Covid-19 also took potshots at the party’s adamant attitude to pressurize allies on accepting Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s name as the Chief Ministerial face in the Grand Alliance by negating demands of smaller allies for discussion on the issue. He, however, underlined that it is a well established democratic norm that a CM candidate is always from the party with the biggest vote share and MLAs.
“Hasn’t the RJD passed resolutions five times to reinforce that Tejashwi is the party’s CM’s face? This is utter sycophancy. Does it help in terms of the party gaining more vote share? No, the party would continue to enjoy the vote share it has. But, the allies should be taken into confidence on the CM candidate because the top post usually goes to the biggest party in any bloc. It will help in more unanimity,” he said.
A prominent Rajput face in the party, Singh has been miffed over being sidelined in the party’s organizational set up and being denied a Rajya Sabha seat for some time, but had created a flutter on June 23, by resigning from the top party post on the party’s decision to induct his political rival Rama Singh. The induction was postponed then.
Incidentally, the RJD veteran’s resignation from the party post had coincided with five RJD MLC’s defecting to the JD(U) in a coup ahead of the MLC polls for nine seats in June last week. Asked whether he was planning to switch over to the NDA, the 75-year old veteran maintained that ‘things would evolve at the opportune time’. But, he dropped hints about looking for new political options by quoting an anecdote from the life of Dr BR Ambedkar.
“Ambedkar ji had said it was not in my hands to be born into the Hindu religion. But when he decided to change his religion, he was urged by many to reconsider. The social reformer had put two conditions before priests but they never got fulfilled. I am somewhat in that same situation,” he said, referring to statements made by JD(U) and BJP leaders giving him an offer to join their fold.
Significantly, the long associate of jailed RJD chief was also critical of the choice of party’s nominees for the recent MLC seats especially the selection of one businessman turned politican Mohammed Farooq, calling it yet another example of ‘picking up outsiders’ for plump posts. He said the same had happened when party had given a ticket to Amarendra Dhari Singh in RS polls a few months back. “People are paratrooping in the party to become MLCs and RS MPs at the cost of loyal party workers. It does not make a party strong,” he said.
There are also indications that the RJD brass is trying hard to mollify the temperamental leader knowing it could well have wider political ramifications in terms of votes and the party’s image ahead of assembly polls. State president of the RJD Jagdanand Singh said, the party had respected Raghuvansh’s stand and not inducted Rama Singh. “Isn’t the party going with what Raghuvansh Prasad Singh wishes?” he asked.