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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The plot thickens: Union Steel Ministry, BJP beckon R C P Singh, as Nitish holds out

BJP keen to see him nominated to RS, but doesn't want to upset JD(U).

Written by Liz Mathew , Santosh Singh | New Delhi, Patna |
Updated: May 26, 2022 7:48:53 am
Nitish Kumar, RCP Singh, BJP RJD alliance, Rashtriya Janata Dal, JDU, Bihar, Bihar news, RJD, Indian Express, Indian Express newsRCP Singh (right) with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar (File photo)

The BJP is said to be in a predicament over the likely decision of the Janata Dal (United) to not renominate Union Steel Minister Ram Chandra Prasad Singh to the Rajya Sabha. Sources in the ruling party on Wednesday said Singh was willing to leave the JD(U) and join their party, but the BJP national leadership does not want to antagonise Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ahead of the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

During the day, Singh ruled out joining the BJP if the JD(U) denied him a nomination to the Upper House. The denial came even as sources in the saffron party said Kumar had conveyed that the JD(U) would not send Singh to the Upper House of Parliament. The BJP, according to sources, is keen to see Singh in the Rajya Sabha and the Cabinet as he is considered to be close to its leaders and its man in the Bihar CM’s close circle. But it does not want this at the cost of angering Nitish.

Singh who was in the national capital, and had meetings with Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Bhupender Yadav, ruled out joining the BJP. Speaking to reporters in Delhi before leaving for Patna, he said, “Why is this being asked? Which party am I from? JD(U) … Let me put this rumour to rest once and for all. I became Union minister with the due approval of Nitish Kumar. Later, I also told this to (present) party president (Rajiv Rajan Singh, or Lalan Singh).”

The minister said there were six more days to file the nomination for the polls. “People have been unnecessarily speculating. There is still a lot of time to file the nomination. I do not know why there has been so much rumour-mongering.”

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Explaining the BJP’s dilemma, a party functionary said, “RCP Singh has very cordial relations with BJP leaders and the party would like to see him back in Parliament. But what price it has to pay for it is the question. Singh does not have much political clout to compensate for upsetting the JD (U) leadership.”

The BJP’s top leadership recently sent Pradhan to Patna for talks with Kumar amid rumours of strains in ties between the allies. Party insiders said Pradhan’s visit was a clear message to its state unit — which is keen to see a BJP leader replace Kumar at the helm of the state — that the top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, does not want the BJP to do anything to upset the Bihar CM. “The national leadership does not want the state BJP leaders to create an impression that the BJP is desperate to replace Nitish with another face,” a party leader told The Indian Express.

Said a BJP leader from Bihar, “So the question is whether the BJP leadership would accommodate Singh at the cost of straining ties with its key ally?”

Aide targets Nitish

Meanwhile, a Delhi University professor said to be close to RCP Singh has hit out at Nitish Kumar for not yet renominating the minister to the Rajya Sabha. Assistant professor Balendra Kumar wrote in Hindi on his Facebook account, “If Nitish Kumar takes any wrong decision under influence of the likes of Manthara, Shakuni Mama and Marich, there can be no delay in changing the political atmosphere of Bihar. With the JD(U)’s 31 MLAs, the BJP’s 77 MLAs, the HAM(S)’s four MLAs, and the Congress’s 16 MLAs, a new CM could be sworn-in in Bihar.”

In another post, Kumar, whose wife is a member of the Union Steel Ministry’s Hindi Salhakar Samiti, also issued a veiled threat of possible Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raids on three JD(U) ministers without a “mass base”.

JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told The Indian Express, “Balendra Kumar is not a member of the JD(U). His wife is a member of the Hindi Salahkar Samiti under the Ministry of Steel. It is political propaganda of very poor taste. We are not at all perturbed by such ill-conceived and unfounded social media posts.”

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