As an IAS officer, Raj Kumar Singh saw power from close quarters, both in his native Bihar and the national capital, and will now occupy a seat of power himself. The first-term MP from Arrah was always known as a tough officer and his toughest assignment was to arrest L K Advani when the BJP stalwart’s ‘Ram Rath’ rolled on unhindered from Ayodhya on way to Somnath in October 1990.
BJP was then propping up the VP Singh government and arresting Advani could have led to its fall and set off a chain of violence. Singh had halted the rath yatra in Samastipur and arrested Advani, prompting the BJP to withdraw support to Singh’s National Front government and resulting in its collapse. The event paved the way for the emergence of the saffron party as a formidable force on the country’s political firmament.
Ironically, he later became a joint secretary in the union home ministry when Advani headed it.
Singh, widely acknowledged as a no-nonsense officer, had a distinguished four-decade career as an IAS officer before he decided to take the political plunge in 2013 by joining the BJP. A year later, he won the Lok Sabha election from Arrah. “It is a challenge for me but I am used to challenges. The party and the prime minister have shown confidence in me and I am thankful to them,” he told PTI.
Singh, 64, said his predecessor in the Power Ministry, Piyush Goyal, did a commendable job in the last three years and that would enable him inherit a well-oiled machinery to work with. A 1975 batch IAS officer, he has served both in Bihar and at the Centre in different capacities, including secretary, defence production, in the UPA government.
He headed the Bihar government’s departments of home, industries and public works, and was also the district magistrate of Patna. He is known for his contributions to the modernisation of the state police and prisons, and laying down a framework for disaster management.
It was during the tenure of Singh as the Union home secretary that 26/11 Mumbai attack terrorist Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru were hanged. Known to speak his mind, Singh had criticised the process of distribution of tickets by the BJP in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, which the party lost. However, his induction in the Modi ministry shows he has made up with the party leadership, which has rewarded him for his administrative acumen.
A well-read man, Singh studied English literature at St. Stephens College, Delhi, and got a bachelors degree in law thereafter. He also studied at the RVB Delft University in the Netherlands. Before joining the IAS, he was in the Indian Police Service, which he served for a year.