Hours after Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, one of the tallest leaders of the RJD, resigned from the party on Thursday, Lalu Prasad wrote an emotional reply to his old comrade, telling Singh he was “not going anywhere”.
In a two-line note written in Hindi from AIIMS, New Delhi, Raghuvansh told Lalu: “I stood behind you for 32 years after the death of Karpoori Thakur. Not any longer.” He thanked the party, its leaders, and workers for their love.
The RJD chief replied in his own hand, writing in Hindi from hospital in Ranchi: “…I cannot believe (that you have resigned from the RJD). My family and I want you to recover fast, and to see you standing among us. For the last four decades, we have sat together to make political, social, and even family decisions together. You should first recover, and we can then talk it out. You are not going anywhere. I am telling you.”
Raghuvansh, 74, a former MP and Union Minister, was admitted to AIIMS on Wednesday with a persistent cough after recovering from Covid-19. Lalu, who is serving a jail sentence in the fodder scam, is in poor health himself.
Raghuvansh has been upset with the attempts to induct his arch rival and former MP Rama Kishore Singh into the RJD. He quit as RJD national vice president about three months ago, and is reported to be upset with Lalu for not stepping in even after he had made it clear that Rama Kishore “must not be inducted into the RJD”.
Rama Kishore, an upper caste Rajput leader who has considerable influence in the Mahnar region of Vaishali district, reportedly met Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly and Lalu’s younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav some time ago.Raghuvansh has also been upset that Lalu’s older son Tej Pratap Yadav had dismissed him as “just a potful of water in the ocean of the RJD”.
Raghuvansh represented the Vaishali constituency in Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms from 1996 before losing to Rama Kishore in 2014. Rama Kishore had fought that election on an LJP ticket. In 2019, Raghuvansh was defeated again at the seat by another LJP candidate, Veena Devi.
Although both these defeats were attributed to the Narendra Modi wave, the RJD’s opposition to the quota for economically weaker sections (EWS) seemed to have hurt Raghuvansh in 2019.
Raghuvansh and Rama Kishore belong to the same caste, and draw on support from the same political constituency. Rama Kishore reportedly wants his wife to contest the coming Bihar Assembly election on the RJD’s symbol.
Raghuvansh and Jagdanand Singh, another Rajput leader, have been old socialist colleagues and staunch loyalists of Lalu Prasad.
Following the resignation of Raghuvansh, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said: “Raghuvansh Babu is a leader who commands respect of all parties. Why he quit the RJD is a matter of concern. Such a senior leader was not getting due respect from Lalu Prasad’s sons.”
JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said: “It is unfortunate that RJD was not able to respect one of its tallest leaders. Raghuvansh Babu represents the legacy of socialists, but RJD could not respect him.”
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said: “Raghuvansh Babu is a very senior and respected leader, and we are concerned about his health. As for his resignation, the party’s national president would look into it.”