Giriraj Singh (61) | MoS, MSME (Lok Sabha, Bihar)
Giriraj Singh had three factors working in his favour leading to his induction. He has been vocal in his loyalty to Narendra Modi from the time when the latter, as Gujarat CM, had very few supporters in Bihar. Second, Giriraj is a prominent leader of the Bhumihar upper caste.
And finally, it is a message to the state BJP that the central leadership decides who matters in Bihar.
For, whenever Giriraj has made one of his frequent controversial statements, the state BJP has sought to distance itself. He was seen as a “second-rung” BJP leader after Sushil Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and Aswhini Choubey. But he has of late grown in stature as “Narendra Modi’s man”.
Recent controversies have included the recovery of Rs 1.14 crore from his Patna home in July. Before that was his election speech in Jharkhand, where he asked “those opposing the BJP and Modi” to “go to Pakistan”. The state BJP was uncomfortable, and even after his elevation some leaders were quietly grumbling that veteran Bhumihar leaders C P Thakur and Bhola Singh had been ignored.
After the cash recovery, very few people had given him a chance. “But the BJP wanted a prominent Bhumihar face who is also a Modi loyalist,” said a BJP source about the rise of the two-time MLC who had never won an election until this year. It is said Narendra Modi helped ensure the Lok Sabha ticket. Giriraj had gone to Gujarat several times between 2010 and 2014. “Singh was perhaps the first state leader to lend open support to Modi right from the time the BJP’s relations with the JD(U) were strained. Giriraj has been rewarded,” said a senior BJP leader, admitting Giriraj hasn’t had much experience in governance, having held low-profile portfolios such as cooperatives and small husbandry in Bihar. Even after his “go to Pakistan” statement, the party was soft on him. “There was little anyone could have done to stop him speaking the way he does,” said a BJP leader.
For the cash recovery, SK Nagar police have registered a case. They said they have recorded the statements of the MP and his businessman cousin Rakesh Kumar Singh and sought documents on the cousin’s claims on the cash. The recovery had included Rs 1.14 crore and $600, two gold chains, a pair of gold earrings, a gold locket, three gold rings, 14 silver coins and seven luxury watches. A senior police officer said: “Our prime job was to recover the cash. We have given details to the Income Tax department, the competent authority to find out more.”
Income Tax department sources said “prima facie assessment prove that the recovered cash belonged to his cousin”. “We are satisfied after a first look at the papers. We are, however, re-checking details of Giriraj’s declared assets and IT returns for the last five years,” said an IT source.