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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

Speculation rife over Bihar RJD chief Jagdanand Singh’s absence at party’s national convention

Ever since Bihar ruling alliance party Rashtriya Janata Dal State president Jagdananad Singh skipped the party’s two-day national convention in Delhi due to ‘health reasons’, speculation is rife that Mr. Singh has already sent his resignation to the party chief Lalu Prasad. Mr. Prasad is likely to take decision on the issue before he leaves to Singapore for treatment of his kidney ailment.

The State RJD president Jagdananad Singh has been one of the closest and oldest friends of RJD chief Lalu Prasad since party was formed in 1997. “In every situation Mr. Singh has stood with Mr. Prasad and never betrayed him,” a senior party leader said.

However, recently when Mr. Jagdananad’s son Sudhakar Singh had to resign as an Agriculture Minister for flagging issues of farmers and “rampant corruption” in his department, Mr. Jagdanand was said to be upset and in protest had offered his resignation from the party post. Mr. Singh had dubbed his son’s resignation a “sacrifice” for the cause of the mahagathbandhan government. “Though no one can ignore issues of farmers and soldiers in the country which Sudhakar Singh has been raising, he did a sacrifice for the government as I did not want this rift to continue,” Mr. Jagdananad said.

Meanwhile, some senior party leaders on Monday told The Hindu that, “even if Mr. Jagdananad resigned, Mr. Prasad will not accept it”. In 1992, when Mr. Jagdananad was Minister in Mr. Prasad’s Cabinet, he had resigned due to some issues. But Mr. Prasad did not accept the resignation , they recalled. Recently, when Mr. Jagdananad had refused to become State party chief for the second consecutive term, he relented on the request of Mr. Prasad.

But, some party sources said that Mr. Prasad this time is not in mood to placate Mr. Jagdananad and he has been mulling over some names of party leaders for the post. Name of senior party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui and some other party leaders coming from Extremely Backward Classes (EBC) too, are doing rounds for the next State RJD chief but nothing official has come out yet.

“Mr. Prasad this time would not like to antagonise Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in any way as he wants him to make his son Tejashwi Yadav the next Chief Minister of the State. It is well known that Jagdanand Singh’s son Sudhakar Singh was causing huge embarrassment to Mr. Nitish by raising issues of corruption in his department and failure of his (Mr. Nitish’s) ambitious three agricultural road maps. It was due to pressure Mr. Nitish that Sudhakar Singh had to resign from the Cabinet,” said a senior RJD leader.

“Jagda Babu [Jagdanand] had to resign from the RJD as he is a man of integrity and honesty. He is known for his straight-talk and simplicity,” said Opposition BJP leader and party’s Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi. Other State BJP leader asked, “what’s wrong if a senior leader like Jagdananad Singh is upset over his son’s removal from the Cabinet? After all, Mr. Prasad too has been doing all this to see his son as the Chief Minister of the State.”

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