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Former Bihar minister Narendra Singh, a product of ‘JP movement’, dies at 75

Singh was one of the few Bihar politicians who worked with all three stalwarts of state politics - Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the late Ram Vilas Paswan.

Son of eminent socialist leader and former minister Shrikrishna Singh, Narendra Singh was the contemporary of former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur. (File/Facebook)

Narendra Singh, former Bihar agriculture minister and one of the key political leaders who emerged from the ‘JP movement’ in the state in the 1970s, died in Patna on Monday after a period of prolonged illness. He was 75.

Bihar CM and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar mourned Singh’s death and announced that he would be cremated with full state honours. “He was my long-time friend and seen as a firebrand young leader during the JP movement. His death is a personal loss to me. He was also my colleague in the government,” said Nitish Kumar.

Singh was one of the few Bihar politicians who worked with all three stalwarts of state politics – Nitish Kumar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and the late Ram Vilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). A firebrand socialist leader, he was the most famous upper-caste Rajput leader in Jamui and Banka region after former Union minister the late Digvijay Singh.

Tejashwi Yadav, Opposition leader and son of Lalu Prasad, said: “I also used to get the affection of Narendra Singh ji. He was known for his frankness in political circles.”

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Son of eminent socialist leader and former minister Shrikrishna Singh, Narendra Singh was the contemporary of former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur. He was a close friend of Lalu Prasad since the ‘JP movement’ days. He began his political career as an MLA from Chakai in Jamui in the ’80s and represented the constituency several times.

After being number two to Ram Vilas Paswan in Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) till 2005, Narendra Singh switched sides and served as Bihar agriculture minister in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet till 2014. He was believed to be instrumental in formulating the agriculture road map of the state under the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government. However, he went with Jitan Ram Manjhi when the former CM broke away from the JDU in 2015.

Narendra Singh’s son Sumit Kumar Singh, an Independent MLA from Chakai, is the science and technology minister in the Nitish Kumar government. Another son Ajay Pratap Singh was a BJP MLA, from Jamui, between 2015 and 2020.

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Narendra Singh lost the trust of a big chunk of supporters due to his frequent switch from one party to another. After Chirag Paswan became a member of Parliament (MP) from Jamui in 2014 and retained the seat in the 2019 general election, Singh and his sons felt threatened about their political space. While his younger son Sumit Kumar retained his Chakai seat, his elder son Ajay Pratap lost his ground from Jamui with the BJP preferring Shreyasi Singh, daughter of late Digvijay Singh, in the 2020 assembly polls. Ajay Pratap Singh tried to offer resistance to Shreyasi as an RLSP candidate, though unsuccessfully.

Jamui resident Bimal Singh said: “Narendra Singh’s death has created a political void not just in the area but in entire state politics. He was among the last of the socialists. He carried a legacy of his illustrious father and now it was left to his sons to carry forward Narendra Singh’s legacy.”

First published on: 04-07-2022 at 02:36:38 pm
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