Patna: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Monday cast doubts over letters written by its founding member Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, from his hospital bed, barely a couple of days before breathing his last, drawing angry reactions from the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar.
Singh, who died at AIIMS, New Delhi on Sunday, had on Thursday announced his resignation from the party vide a hand-written letter addressed to jailed RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and followed it up with a series of communications, the next day, drawing the attention of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar towards a number of issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while paying rich tributes to the departed leader on Sunday had also referred to Singh's letter to the Bihar chief minister where he raised the issue of development of his erstwhile Lok Sabha seat Vaishali.
"I will request Nitish Kumar to execute the development projects he wrote about in the letter. Let's together—the state and the Centre--fulfil his wishes," Modi said.
Kumar, who is Prasad’s arch rival and heads the Janata Dal (United), had on Sunday night told reporters at the Assembly premises, where Singh’s mortal remains were brought on way to his native village for cremation, "we have started acting on the requests of late Raghuvansh babu....Some issues raised by him fall in the ambit of the Centre and we have referred these to the Union government for appropriate action".
Among other things, Singh had sought extension of MGNREGA benefits to the farm sector.
He had also expressed the wish that a huge begging bowl believed to have been used by the Buddha, which is at present kept at a museum in restive Kabul, be brought back from the Afghanistan capital and kept at Vaishali district, to which the late leader belonged and which is one of the many spots identified as part of the "Buddha Circuit".
A screenshot of Nitish Kumar’s written reply to Singh, penned while the latter was still alive, was also shared on the official Twitter handle of the chief minister’s office.
Singh's letter to him had surprised Prasad, who wrote back the same day saying, "I don't believe....a letter purportedly written by you is on social media. I, my family, and the RJD family that have nursed the party want you to get well soon and be amongst us. You are not going anywhere".
After hearing about death of his long-time companion, the RJD chief had tweeted Sunday, "I had told you only the day before yesterday that you are not going anywhere. But you have gone so far away. I am speechless, I am sad. You will always be in my memory."
RJD MLA Bhai Virendra and MLC Subodh Rai smelt a rat and asserted "no person, admitted to a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, can write a letter".
Singh had been admitted to the ICU of AIIMS about a week ago for treatment of complications he had developed after recovering from COVID-19. He was put on ventilator late Friday and died less than 48 hours later.
Rai, who claimed to have met Singh in Patna after his recovery from coronavirus, said "he was obviously upset over many things which he had expressed freely. But he never betrayed any intention of quitting the party he had nurtured. The state government is doing politics in the matter".
Notably, Singh had, while undergoing treatment for COVID-19, announced his resignation from the post of national vice-president, miffed over reports of a mafia don-turned-politician Rama Singh, by whom he was defeated in Vaishali in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, joining the RJD.
Bhai Virendra pointed out that the letters written to Nitish Kumar were "too many in number and shared on the social media at too short intervals" and claimed the whole episode pointed towards "a conspiracy by the NDA".
The RJD leaders found support from senior Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh, who had formerly been with Lalu Prasad’s party.
"I had met Raghuvansh babu just one week back. He was a transparent man and had he really been thinking of quitting his party, he would not have tried to hide it. There is some conspiracy at some level", the Congress leader said.
Speculations are rife that the former Union minister, who remained loyal to Lalu Prasad for more than three decades, was made to change his mind by his elder son Satya Prakash Singh
who is said to have given up his corporate job with the intent to make the political plunge.
The JD(U) is said to have been mooting a legislative council berth for the veteran RJD leader’s son since before his death.
However, the NDA expressed outrage over the insinuations by the RJD leaders.
"They seem to have no shame. They never cared about his well-being while he was battling for life. Singh was proud of his roots in Vaishali, the seat of the first republic in the world and he raised an issue relating to it.
"The RJD is talking rubbish. Even Lalu did not show the temerity to question Singh’s acts", Neeraj Kumar, senior JD(U) leader and state minister for Information and Public Relations Department, fumed.
State BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said "Singh had been tormented by the pettiness of the RJDs new generation of leaders. Who can forget Tej Pratap Yadav’s denigrating remarks. Accursed by its founding member, the party is now on the verge of extinction".
Yadav, the mercurial elder son of the RJD supremo, had reacted to Singh’s exodus by saying "a lota (pot) of water makes no difference to an ocean".