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Sunday, July 25, 2021

RCP Singh joins Union cabinet: Nitish Kumar successful in nurturing second line of JD (U) leadership

RCP Singh will always be the frontrunner for succeeding Nitish Kumar along with former Union minister and JD (U) parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha. While RCP Singh lacks a mass-base, he is considered a deft strategist and Nitish's second-in-command.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: July 9, 2021 5:59:48 pm
Rajya Sabha MP RCP Singh (right) with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (PTI)

Even though Janata Dal (United) has got a raw deal in Wednesday’s Union cabinet expansion getting just one berth despite having 16 Lok Sabha MPs, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may still have succeeded in preparing his successors in the party. RCP Singh, JD (U) national president and Rajya Sabha MP, has taken charge as steel minister.

Now that the bureaucrat-turned-politician has become a Union minister, RCP, as he is addressed in political circles, will always be the frontrunner for replacing Nitish along with former Union minister and JD (U) parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha. In all probabilities, this might well be the last term of Nitish as chief minister given age will not be on his side by the next assembly polls.

But those who are trying to write off JD (U) after 2025 should hold their judgments as he still sees chances of keeping the party strong by investing in RCP Singh and Kushwaha. It is always a tough choice between the two. The former has been very close to the Bihar chief minister and comes from the same caste — OBC Kurmi. While RCP lacks a mass-base, he is considered a deft strategist and Nitish’s second-in-command. The latter, meanwhile, is a mass leader with vast administrative experience. It is a choice between the heart and mind for Nitish Kumar.

Even though Nitish walks a tightrope between his loyalists RCP Singh and Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh or Lalan Singh, the CM’s “ignorance” about not having much knowledge of JD (U)’s communication with ally BJP on cabinet expansion might well have been a deft act of political shrewdness and pretence he is known for.

Despite Nitish trying to pacify Lalan and strike a balancing act between RCP and Kushwaha, JD (U) will see a battle of succession in the not too distant future. Kushwaha was given the post of the party’s parliamentary board chairman so that he does not have to report to RCP.

Now, the million-dollar question is if RCP will resign as JD (U) national president or not. RCP, an ad hoc national president, might not resign as he is not under any pressure to adhere to the “one man, one post” formula. After all, Nitish Kumar kept both positions of national party president and Bihar CM till he quit the former last year.

JD (U)’s election for its national president is due next July and Kushwaha has been waiting in the wings. Nitish needs both Luv and Kush (koeri and Kurmi). Despite the BJP being able to somewhat sideline Nitish, the Bihar CM has been silently preparing his heirs. Succession fights can be taken care of at a later stage.

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