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Friday, August 12, 2022

RCP Singh quits JD(U) after own party questions his land deals

Former Union minister calls it a conspiracy, says party a sinking ship

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: August 6, 2022 11:08:01 pm
RCP Singh (right) with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (File photo)

The Janata Dal (United) Friday accused its former chief RCP Singh of “huge irregularities” in declaring land assets, prompting him to announce his resignation and call the party a “sinking ship” — the coda to a dramatic internal fall from grace.

In a letter to Singh on August 4, JD(U) Bihar president Umesh Kushwaha sought a reply to an allegation — made by two unnamed JD(U) “workers” — that he bought at least 47 plots of land in Nalanda between 2013 and 2022.

Over this time, Singh held several different positions: JD(U) general secretary (organisation), Rajya Sabha MP, JD(U) national president and Union minister.

In his 2016 Rajya Sabha election affidavit, Singh showed one shared immovable asset worth Rs 4.86 lakh (his share) at Asthawan village. He had declared moveable assets worth around Rs 2.53 crore and over Rs 15 lakh in his wife’s name.

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Singh was recently forced to step down as a Union minister after JD(U) declined to field him for a third Rajya Sabha term. A former Uttar Pradesh-cadre IAS officer, Singh had taken VRS in 2010 to join politics. He had served as the principal secretary to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his first five years as CM and rose rapidly within the party ranks.

His relationship with Nitish soured after he accepted the ministerial position without the CM’s consent — and over his perceived closeness to BJP. Singh had also been asked to give up the party chief’s post.
The tensions finally came to ahead with Kushwaha’s letter to Singh. In the letter, the state party chief presented a list of land deals showing that Singh allegedly purchased the plots (totalling 1,600 decimals of land) in the name of his wife Girja Singh and two daughters at Asthawan and Islampur blocks of Nalanda.

The estimated government rate of one decimal land varied from Rs 15,000 to Rs 40,000 at the time of purchase. The current value of land in Asthawan and Islampur ranges from Rs 25,000 to Rs 90,000 per decimal.

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Separately, Kushwaha had written to JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh on 26 July with a list of land purchases, it is learnt.

Addressing the former Union minister, Kushwaha wrote in Hindi: “Two JD(U) friends from Nalanda have made a written complaint to me with evidence that you have accumulated huge property between 2013 and 2022. There seem to be huge irregularities.”

Kushwaha added: “Our leader Nitish Kumar reposed faith in you and gave you the key position of party national president, sent you to Rajya Sabha twice and you also served as Union minister. You also know the fact that the long political career of Nitish Kumar has been unblemished and he has not accumulated any property for himself. The party expects you to give a point-wise reply to the complaint against you.”

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Singh told reporters in Nalanda: “They should have directly asked me to explain (the land plot purchases) rather than writing to me, quoting two people… There is a conspiracy against me. I am resigning right now from primary membership of the party. JD(U) is a sinking ship. Sirf jhola dhonewale log bache hai. Mai kahta hoon idhar aa jao (only hangers-on are left. I advise people to join me).”

Singh did not comment on the alleged land purchases.

One of his daughters, Lipi Singh, who is the Saharsa SP, did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

In his letter to Rajiv Ranjan, Kushwaha said that RCP Singh’s wife, who is mentioned as Girja Singh in his 2016 election affidavit, was ‘Girja Devi’ in land transactions.

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Kanhaiya Singh, an aide of Singh, said: “All these plots are agricultural land in Nalanda and not ones in Delhi and Mumbai.”

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Demanding stern action against Singh, Kushwaha wrote to Rajiv Ranjan: “Accumulation of property by RCP Singh who held top positions in the party is a crime and sullies the image of the party… We have so far only exposed his property at Nalanda. The list could be longer.”

Nalanda DM Shashank Shubankar told The Indian Express: “We have not yet received any complaint on land purchases by RCP Singh. As of now, we have no knowledge about it.”

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First published on: 06-08-2022 at 10:00:46 pm
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