Raghuvansh Prasad Singh: A saint among the tainted

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By Mohan Sahay

It was tough to stay unscathed in a political social gathering like Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav, which was mired in corruption instances and rabid caste politics in Bihar. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who handed away on September 13, maintained his integrity until he breathed his final.

One of many few surviving socialist followers of Ram Manohar Lohia, Raghuvansh Babu, as he was affectionately referred to as, led a easy life. Even when he was a Union Minister within the UPA-1 authorities led by Manmohan Singh, his official bungalow on Ashok Highway sported minimal, naked furnishing.

It fell to him because the minister for rural improvement to guide the roll-out of the Mahatma Gandhi Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Act (MNREGA). Whereas a scheme to construct bathrooms in villages had been on for many years, he fleshed it out as a nationwide scheme, the Nirmal Gaon Yojana. The modest man couldn’t give it the nationwide salience its flamboyant successor, the Swachch Bharat Mission managed to safe.

He has been with Karpoori Thakur, one other veteran socialist chief and a former chief minister of Bihar. After Karpoori Thakur’s dying, he opted to hitch forces with Lalu Yadav, who fashioned Rashtriya Janata Dal, following a number of splits within the Janata Dal.

At occasions, he was at pains to clarify his presence in RJD, with its chief charged with corruption and even jailed within the fodder rip-off. As soon as, after I instructed that he stop RJD, he mentioned, “Kya Karen? Kahan jayen? Mere liye koi aur constituency hai nahin. Congress aur BJP mein principal ja nahin sakta”. (What shall I do? The place I’ll go? I don’t have another constituency. I can’t go to Congress or BJP).

He held a Grasp’s diploma and a Ph.D. in Arithmetic and was a Professor at Langat Singh School in Muzaffarpur earlier than plunging into full time-politics.

Regardless of belonging to an higher caste – he was a Rajput – he practised backward caste politics with Karpoori Thakur (a backward caste chief and a person identified for his honesty and integrity).

Vaishali in Bihar was his constituency, which he represented within the Lok Sabha. In Bihar, the place caste is a significant component, he narrated an fascinating incident. Whereas canvassing for votes in elections, he visited a village in Vaishali that was dominated by higher caste Bhumihars. In Bihar, Rajputs and Bhumihars are conventional rivals.

When he went to the village, individuals there welcomed him and prolonged all courtesy to a person identified for his clear picture and tireless work for the poor and the downtrodden. Villagers provided him chair and handled him with snacks and tea, listened to him attentively as he pleaded to the villagers to forged their vote in his favour.

Some aged current within the crowd have been frank sufficient to inform him in native dialect, “Ahan to admi theek chhi, par votwa na deb” (You’re a good man however won’t vote for you). It was a easy caste equation in Bihar. But, he received his Lok Sabha seat from Vaishali in 2004 and in 2009, however misplaced his seat in 2014 and in 2019.

He anticipated that his social gathering, the RJD, would ship him to the Rajya Sabha this yr, however Lalu and his son Tejaswi repeated Prem Chand Gupta for the Rajya Sabha, as a result of Gupta has been a financier and fund raiser for Lalu. The second seat that RJD received went to some obscure businessman of North Bihar.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was damaged by the remedy given to him by Lalu and his son. He was additional harm when Lalu admitted to his social gathering fold a pacesetter who all the time opposed him in politics.

In Parliament, whether or not he was within the Opposition or within the authorities, Raghuvansh Babu all the time acquired good protection in newspapers notably English dailies of Delhi.

As soon as Lalu requested him, “Raghuvansh Babu kya baat hai yeh Angrezi akhbar to hamare picchhe pada rahta hai aapka khoob tareef karta hai” (Raghuvans Babu how come the English newspapers, which can be after me, heap reward on you)?

To which Raghuvansh replied, “Kya jane. Log hamare paas atey hain aur baat kar ke chale jate hain, Kya likhte hain aur kya chhapte hain hum kaise kahen” (How would I do know, they arrive to me discuss and go. What they write and what they publish I don’t know”.

Whereas in Delhi as an MP or as a minister he would invite journalists of Delhi to his Ashok Highway residence on 14th of January yearly with out fail. It was the day of Makar Sankranti. Journalists can be handled to Dahi Chura and Tilkoot. Among the many invitees can be even these journalists who had retired or stop the newspaper they represented. It was not that after a journalist was out of reckoning he would ignore her or him.

The final days of his life have been crammed with ache on the remedy meted by the RJD run by Lalu and his son. From the hospital mattress at AIIMS in Delhi, he despatched a hand-written notice to Lalu, who’s serving a jail sentence in Ranchi, saying that it was now not doable from him to proceed within the Get together. Lalu wrote again that he wouldn’t let him go. His final letter written additionally from his hospital mattress was to Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister requesting him to do improvement work in Vaishali which had rejected him in two consecutive Lok Sabha polls. He was a saint amongst politicians.

(The creator is a senior journalist in Delhi. Views expressed are private)

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