Infighting within the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar has once again taken centre stage after the party mounted pressure on senior leader and former Union minister RCP Singh and slapped a show cause notice at him for allegedly amassing huge amounts of property between 2013 and 2019, and not declaring those in his poll affidavits.
Singh, a former civil servant who worked as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s principal secretary, has been asked to immediately respond to the notice.
The show cause letter, issued by state JD(U) president Umesh Kushwaha on the basis of a complaint by two party workers on July 26 addressed to party national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh (alias Lalan Singh) and the state president, alleged that all these properties were purchased in the name of RCP’s wife and two daughters.
“As per the available information, you and your family have amassed vast immovable property from 2013 to 2022. Many discrepancies have come to light. You have served as an officer and party worker with the party’s leader Nitish Kumar for a long time. The honourable leader made you a Rajya Sabha MP twice, party general secretary (organisation), national president and a minister at the Centre with full faith and trust. You are aware of the fact that the leader has zero tolerance for corruption. Despite being in public life for so many years, there is no allegation against him and he didn’t amass wealth,” the show cause notice read.
Singh, who has also served as the JD(U) general secretary and national president, had to resign from the Union cabinet on July 6 after the party denied him a ticket for a third term.
“The party follows a zero-tolerance policy as far as corruption is concerned. If a complaint has come, it becomes the duty of the party to seek clarification from him (Singh). The party’s next step will depend upon his reply/clarification,” Kushwaha said.
The two party workers, in their joint seven-page complaint, alleged that RCP acquired 40 bighas of land in the name of his wife and two daughters in two blocks of Asthawan and Islampur in Nalanda district.
“Our leader Nitish Kumar has set a high standard of morality and follows zero-tolerance policy by ensuring that all ministers/legislators annually put in the public domain their property descriptions. RCP Singh has set a wrong precedent by fudging names (complainants allege that spelling of wife’s name has been changed) to hide properties. He has not mentioned these in his affidavits,” the letter alleged, hinting that more such deals will surface soon.
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RCP drew the party’s wrath after he accepted one berth in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union cabinet in July 2021, when as a party president he was authorised to hold talks for more seats.
This led to strong resentment among party leaders, with the current president calling it a “unilateral decision”. RCP was also assigned to hold talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party for an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, and earn seats for the JD(U). However, a failure to achieve that too added to the discomfort within the cadre.
Further, RCP also took a swipe at the JD(U) over their claim that “Nitish Kumar is PM material”. After being denied the party ticket for Rajya Sabha, he said “how can one dream of becoming a PM with 17 MPs”.
In an apparent bid to undermine the patronage of Kumar, the JD(U)’s de facto leader, Singh also claimed that he owed his meteoric rise in politics to his own abilities. “I heard the statement of RCP Singh. His gratitude towards the prime minister, with no mention of Nitish Kumar, is proof that he had accepted the ministerial berth without taking consent of the party. A reason why he has fallen from grace,” JD(U) minister Ashok Choudhary said.
In July, speculations about him joining the BJP gained traction after he was welcomed by party leaders in Hyderabad during their national executive meeting. However, the BJP dismissed the claims and contended that Singh must have arrived in Telangana’s capital to take part in a government programme.
HT is trying to get a response from RCP Singh following these developments.