From Nitish’s closest confidante to ‘Amit Shah’s man’: Who is RCP Singh at the centre of JD(U)-BJP drama?

The ties between allies JD(U) and the BJP were already strained, even before RCP Singh, once Nitish Kumar’s right-hand man, quit the party. Now the tension has escalated with speculation rife that the Bihar CM is considering ending the partnership

FP Explainers August 08, 2022 15:10:19 IST
From Nitish’s closest confidante to ‘Amit Shah’s man’: Who is RCP Singh at the centre of JD(U)-BJP drama?

Once a close aide of Nitish Kumar, former Union minister RCP Singh quit the Janata Dal (United) on Saturday. Upset with the BJP, the Bihar CM is considering ending the alliance. PTI

All’s not been well with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) (JDU) for a while now. But it’s gone beyond the usual war of words or disagreement over policies. The alliance in Bihar is on the verge of collapse.

The JD(U) has now accused the BJP of two major conspiracies to weaken Kumar’s hold over the party. “Two conspiracies were hatched against Nitish Kumar in recent times — one the Chirag model of 2020, which was responsible for bringing down our Assembly seats to 43. Another had been in the making and was nipped in the bud,” JD(U) party president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, aka Lalan Singh said. He admitted that the second was RCP Singh.

A former Union minister, RCP Singh quit the party on Saturday after a fallout with Nitish Kumar. Once among the closest aide of the Bihar CM, he said joining the BJP was an option for him. RCP’s resignation is seen as the last straw, as the JD(U) has accused its alliance partner of trying to split the party.

Who is RCP Singh?

RCP Singh – or Ram Chandra Prasad Singh – is a 1984 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer. He got acquainted with Kumar when he was posted as the private secretary to then Union minister Beni Prasad Verma in 1996. The two came from Bihar’s Nalanda district and are Kurmi, which created a bond between them. But it was RCP Singh’s work as a bureaucrat that left a lasting impression.

Singh was appointed as a special secretary when JD9(U) boss became the Union railway minister. This is when the two became closer.

After Kumar became CM, Singh became his principal secretary. Despite being from the UP cadre, he was given this post, causing heartburn among the bureaucracy in Bihar.

In 2010, Singh quit the IAS and was nominated by the JD(U) to the Rajya Sabha. He was renominated in 2016. Singh’s influence in the party grew and he soon became the No 2, playing a key role in crucial decisions like ticket allocation for elections and party strategy.

Singh held several different positions within the party: JD(U) general secretary (organisation), Rajya Sabha MP, JD(U) national president and Union minister. “…when he was made party president, many in the political circles were surprised by his sudden rise in a party that Kumar runs like a tight ship,” a senior JD(U) functionary had said, according to a report in Hindustan Times.

What led to a fallout between Nitish and RCP?

The relationship between the two soured during the Cabinet formation of the second NDA government. Kumar had not joined the first Modi government and was considering changing his stance in 2019 provided two berths were given to JD(U) MPs – one for Singh and the other for Lalan Singh. But it did not work out in the end and Kumar’s party decided to stay out.

In 2021, during the expansion of the Union Cabinet, Singh was appointed Union steel minister. It is said that he negotiated for the post without taking Kumar into confidence. This left the JD(U) chief miffed.

In May, the JD(U) announced the name of Kheeru Mahto as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls and not RCP Singh. The party said that the candidature of Mahto, the Jharkhand unit chief of the party, was backed by the Bihar CM.

Singh was forced to step down as Union minister after the JD(U) refused to field him for a third term in the Rajya Sabha.

From Nitishs closest confidante to Amit Shahs man Who is RCP Singh at the centre of JDUBJP drama

Nitish Kumar and RCP Singh were extremely close. But after the two had a fallout, the JD(U) chief started believing that RCP was acting on behalf of Amit Shah. PTI

How did the situation come a to boil?

On Saturday, RCP Singh quit the JD(U) after his party questioned his land deals and the involvement of his family in them.

He has been accused of “huge irregularities” in declaring land assets. In a letter to Singh on 4 August, the party’s Bihar president Umesh Kushwaha sought a reply to an allegation — made by two unnamed JD(U) “workers” — that he bought at least 47 plots of land in Nalanda between 2013 and 2022, reports The Indian Express.

This left Singh seething and he called it a “below-the-bell” attack on his family for acquiring plots through alleged corrupt means. As he quit the party, he vowed revenge and said that joining the BJP was an option.

In a scathing attack on his former boss, Singh said, “I’ll just say that there’s no cure to jealousy... Nitish Kumar will not become Prime Minister in any of his seven lives.”

What does RCP's quitting mean for the JD(U)?

Singh’s quitting is seen as the final blow to the already shaky JD(U) and BJP alliance in Bihar.

The Bihar CM sees Singh as someone who is acting on behalf of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Kumar thinks the senior BJP leader is trying to “remote control” Bihar by selecting ministers in the state who are close to him.

Nitish Kumar has been upset with the BJP for several reasons – Cabinet berths at the Centre, constant humiliation by BJP leaders including Bihar assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha, and policy differences. He is in no mood to carry on with the BJP, according to media reports.

Now political circles are abuzz that he is in talks with Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Tejaswi Yadav, as he contemplates switching sides.

Meanwhile, the BJP leaders are saying that the alliance in Bihar is intact. However, the latest statements and manoeuvres by the JD(U) hint otherwise.

With inputs from agencies

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