Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday handed over the reins of JD(U) to his close aide and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Chandra Prasad Singh. Singh had been holding the post of the party’s national general secretary (organisation).
Kumar, who had been holding the position of the party’s national president, said he wanted to focus on governance. “It is not easy to hold two positions,” the Chief Minister said at the national executive meeting of JD(U). He said he had “not wanted to become CM” and had accepted the post only at “the BJP’s insistence”.
Singh’s elevation comes at a time when the JD(U) has been relegated to the position of the junior partner to the BJP following the Assembly polls in Bihar. The development also comes soon after six out of the JD(U)’s seven MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh switched over to the BJP. The JD (U) has termed the development “unfortunate and unfriendly”.
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Singh, a former IAS officer from Nalanda — also Nitish Kumar’s home district — comes from the same OBC Kurmi community as the Chief Minister. In selecting Singh as his successor, Nitish has reached out to his core support base of Koeri-Kurmi, known as Luv-Kush in the political lexicon of Bihar. He has also cleared any unambiguity on the official number two in the party. What goes against Singh is the lack of electoral importance. Singh, along with Lok Sabha MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, are considered the seniormost party leaders after Nitish. With Lalan Singh interested more in national politics and not much active in the organisation, R C P Singh emerged as the clear choice. Singh has not won any election yet.
JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi told reporters, “We are hurt at the Arunachal Pradesh episode but it would have no impact on Bihar. But what happened in Arunachal Pradesh is against coalition dharma.” He added that the JD(U) would work towards strengthening and expanding itself under the new leader.
Newly-elected JD (U) president Singh said, “I profusely thank Nitish Kumar for reposing faith in me. It is a highly emotional moment for me.”