Former Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh died of the coronavirus on Sunday, NDTV reported. He was 74.
Singh was being treated for complications from the coronavirus in an intensive care unit of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. His condition became serious on Saturday, following which he was put on a ventilator.
He resigned from the Rashtriya Janata Dal on Thursday and sought forgiveness from party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. “After [former Bihar Chief Minister] Karpuri Thakur’s death, I stood behind you for 32 years but no more,” he wrote. He had been with the RJD since its inception in 1997. He had quit as the vice president of the party in June. However, Yadav refused to accept the resignation and responded to Singh saying: “We will talk once you are well. You are not going anywhere.”
Singh represented Bihar’s Vaishali constituency in Parliament five times, and was the Union minister for rural development in the Congress-led government between 2008 and 2009. He was an expert in rural and agricultural matters and was considered the architect of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
The former Union minister was reportedly displeased after Tejashwi Yadav took helm of the party following the imprisonment of Lalu Yadav on corruption charges in the fodder scam. In a letter to the party in June, Singh had said he was not happy with the people being taken into the party fold. At the time, five of the eight Rashtriya Janata Dal members in the Rajya Sabha had also quit and joined the Janata Dal (United).
PM Modi, other leaders offer condolences
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Singh’s death left a “deep void” in the politics of Bihar and the country. Modi paid his tribute to the leader before he launched three petroleum projects in Bihar.
“At the beginning of the programme, I have to share some sad news with you,” Modi said. “Veteran leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is not with us anymore. His death has created a deep void in the politics of Bihar and the country.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also said he was deeply saddened by Singh’s death. “His [Singh’s ] entire life was devoted to the ideas of [Ram Manohar] Lohia ji and Karpoori Thakur ji,” Shah tweeted. “His dedication to the welfare of the poor and deprived class will always be remembered. I express my condolences to his family.”
President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed his grief. “The passing away of Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is tragic,” he said in a tweet. “An outstanding leader rooted to ground, Raghuvansh Babu was a true stalwart with phenomenal understanding of rural India. With his spartan and sagely lifestyle, he enriched public life. Condolences to his family and followers.”
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, whose Twitter handle is managed by his office, also paid a tribute to Singh. “Dear Raghuvansh Babu, what have you done,” he said. “I told you the day before yesterday, you are not going anywhere. But you went so far. I am speechless and silent. I will miss you deeply.”