Former Union minister RCP Singh on Thursday rued the ”witch hunt” in the Janata Dal-United which he felt had resulted in many of his loyalists being sacked after the impression grew that he has ceased to be in the good books of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Singh, who resigned from the Union cabinet on the previous day, a day before his Rajya Sabha term came to an end, was replying to questions of journalists upon his visit to his home state.
The former JD-U national president was asked about expulsion of leaders like spokesman Ajay Alok and other key office bearers last month on the ground of ”anti-party activities”.
”I do not have much of a say in the induction or expulsion of people in the party. But I must say that in any organisation, including a particular party, there must not be a witch hunt,” said Singh, betraying a sense of helplessness.
However, the bureaucrat turned politician also sought to put up a brave face saying, ”I am a straightforward person with a positive outlook and there will be no change in these traits of mine. I shall be using my experience to equip farmers and unemployed youths with necessary skills.”
He also acknowledged his meteoric rise in politics, recalling that he was ”made a national general secretary, straight away upon joining the JD-U in 2010”.
Singh owed his political success to his proximity with Kumar whose trust he had earned as an IAS officer when the latter was the railway minister. After Kumar became the Bihar CM in 2005, the UP cadre officer was brought to Patna and made his powerful principal secretary, a post he held till taking voluntary retirement from service.
Known to be a man of ambition, Singh appeared to be enjoying Kumar's trust at least till January last year when the chief minister anointed him as the party president, relinquishing the post he had been holding for several years.
It is, however, believed in political circles here that Singh did himself in by accepting a Union cabinet berth within a few months of becoming the national president without taking into confidence Kumar who had reservations about his party, the BJP's largest ally, accepting a ”token representation”.
Singh's replacement as national president by Kumar's old political associate Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan was a proverbial straw in the wind and the writing was there on the wall for all to see when the party refused to consider him for a third consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, giving the ticket to its Jharkhand unit chief Kheeru Mahto.
Accused by many in the JD-U of having become a ”BJP man”, Singh complained of the media hype over his felicitation by leaders of the saffron party in Hyderabad on a day when it was holding its national executive meet in the southern city.
”I was visiting Tirupati as part of a ministerial meeting. By way of common courtesy, local BJP leaders greeted me in the traditional way when I deplaned at Hyderabad for my onward journey. So much was made of that,” said the JD-U leader recalling frantic speculation over his jumping the ship.
To a pointed question as to whether there was a possibility of his joining the BJP in search of greener pastures, he replied gruffly, ”You should know better.”
Meanwhile, senior JD-U leaders like parliamentary board chief Upendra Kushwaha and minister Bijendra Yadav, who is a former state president, were non-committal when they were asked about what future role has been decided for Singh in a party which he had headed till recently.