By and large people of the state, cutting across the party line hold the belief that it was ill treatment meted out to him by RJD leadership that has been primarily responsible for his death. Though earlier he had tested positive for Covid 19, he had come out of the crisis. In his death Nitish Kumar also lost a leader who could have engineered a vertical split in the RJD and substantially contributed to division of RJD votes. Undeniably a dead Singh has inflicted severe damage to the RJD than an alive should have done.

With a socialist background Singh had resigned from the RJD on Thursday and was to join the Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United soon. Though he was from upper caste Rajput community he commanded immense respect among the backward castes. That was the reason that he continued to be associated with RJD, a party identified as a Ydav outfit.

Singh had written three letters to Nitish Kumar, listing three demands and providing enough indications he is planning to join his JD(U). The sources maintain that at least a dozen of senior RJD leaders were to join JD(U) along with him once he would have come out of the hospital. In his letter Singh had pleaded to Nitish the need for some amendments in the MGNREGA for better impact. He had also raised the issue of bringing back the alms bowl of Lord Buddha from Afghanistan.

He mentioned in his letter; “I had raised this issue in the Lok Sabha and the then external affairs minister S.M. Krishna had said that the ASI would trace the origin of the alms bowl, and bring it back to Vaishali. It was a parting gift by Lord Buddha to the people of Vaishali after spending his last monsoon stay there. However, the red-tape and factionalism prevalent in the ASI made it say that there was not enough evidence about its origin and throw a spanner in the works”.

In the letter he had argued; “The MGNREGA Act provides that work would be done on land belonging to the government and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Please bring an ordinance immediately to add that work could be done on the land of general farmers also under this Act to escape the model code of conduct for the forthcoming elections”. He said that the government could pay half the wages under this new provision while the farmer concerned will pay the rest. Such a provision would guarantee availability of workers to farmers, provide them labour subsidy, cut down on irregularities in the 100-day rural job guarantee scheme and reduce the burden of expenditure on the government.

Raghuvansh Singh as Union rural development minister in the Dr Manmohan Singh government had conceptualised and implemented the MGNREGA. Singh forwarding his suggestion to Nitish speaks enough of the strained relations and prevalence of mistrust among the opposition ranks and parties.

It is a coincidence that Bhola Rai, a trusted colleague of Lalu, and two Congress MLAs — Poornima Yadav and Sudarshan — also joined the JDU on Friday. Rai was a three-time MLA from 1980 to 1995 from Vaishali’s Raghopur constituency, considered a pocket borough of Lalu.

Though sources close to Tejashvi ruled out the possibility of Singh’s death having any adverse impact on the poll prospect of RJD in South Bihar the sailing for RJD does not appear to be smooth. Leaders of smaller parties are quite angry with Tejashvi for his obstinate attitude towards them. Since there is no clarity on the issue of seat sharing, the differences with smaller allies is creating hurdle in the path of Opposition alliance. The Congress leadership also does not endorse this attitude of the RJD, especially Tejashvi. Already experts have started forecasting that the NDA will come back to power.

Though the RJD has agreed in principle to the opposition, particularly to the left’s suggestion, that the CPI leader,Kanhaiya Kumar would share the stage, the sources maintain that Tejashvi has chalked out his separate itinerary. He is reluctant to share the stage with Kumar. The Congress nevertheless does not endorse this approach of the RJD. The Congress leaders feel that the opposition must not waste this opportunity and muster its resources to ensure the defeat of the NDA. Interestingly RJD and Congress are not on the same page on this issue. While Tejashvi treats Nitish as his bete noire, for Congress the prime task is to ensure the defeat of the NDA as a whole. With this in view it it has conveyed its desire to strengthen the opposition alliance by accommodating smaller parties like the Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP and Mukesh Sahni-led Vikas-sheel Insaan Party (VIP).

While the Congress has kick-started its campaign for the Bihar elections by holding district-level virtual rallies, the grand alliance is yet to chalk out a campaign schedule. The state Congress chief Sadanand Singh has already expressed his disgust at the delay tactics adopted by RJD. He is on the record that the delay in seat sharing would severely damage the poll prospect of the party. It is a fact that lack of clarity over the nature of Grand Alliance and the uncertainty over the number and identification of seats to be contested by each of the constituents is causing confusion in the party. Aspirants are not sure from where they would be asked in the eleventh hour to contest. He party is already suffering with resources. An early decision will help the candidates to prepare themselves for the fight.

Some Congress leaders allege that the RJD is adopting the old tactics of delaying the seat sharing as it is not keen on giving many seats to the smaller parties and has even told the Congress leadership that these parties can contest on RJD and Congress symbols. While Congress intends to ensure that no division of opposition votes take place, the RJD is busy consolidating its own vote bank.

NDA has got a boost in Bihar as Modi announced an investment of Rs 1,390 crore in the state under PMMSY. He also announced the establishment of a fish brood bank at Sitamarhi and an aquatic disease referral laboratory at Kishanganj. With the intention to reach out to the voters he said, “All the schemes started resonate our belief that our villages should become the strength of 21st century India, self-reliant India.” (IPA Service)