PATNA: Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the veteran socialist leader, who announced his decision to quit the RJD from his hospital bed just four days before his death, was an inimitable blend of rustic aggression and learning, qualities that helped him carve a niche for himself in Bihar politics.
For years he lived under the shadow of his alter ego, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, while they together negotiated the choppy waters of state and national politics, but was not quite overshadowed by his leader.
An astute lawmaker, Singh would fish out Practice and Procedure of Parliament written by M N Kaul and S L Shakdher whenever a tricky situation arose, almost instinctively open the relevant page that would have the answer to end a logjam, and begin reading out in his quirky Hinglish that many found hilarious.
No amount of interrruption by fellow parliamentarians would deter Raghuvansh Prasad Singh from completing what he had set out to say.
Behind the rough and ready visage lay the analytical mind of a mathematics professor who always had his leader's ears.
Singh, however, died a disillusioned man and put in his papers from his hospital bed at AIIMS, New Delhi, on Thursday.
"Since the death of Jannayak Karpoori Thakur, I stood behind you for 32 years, but not now," he said in his brief one-line resignation letter to Prasad, who is serving sentences in four fodder scam cases in Ranchi.
In the footnote, the once staunch Prasad loyalist, added, "I got the affection of party leaders and workers, besides common people. Please forgive me."
Thakur was a prominent socialist leader and former state chief minister.
Hours later, Prasad wrote back from jail in complete disbelief.
"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," Prasad wrote back.
"For four decades, we have together discussed political, social and even family matters. You get well soon and we will discuss again. You are not going anywhere, you understand," Prasad wrote in a handwritten letter that had the stamp of the prison authority.
Prasad apparently rejected his resignation, but no discussion could take place between them, and Singh indeed left forever.
The same day he also wrote to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar about the projects in his constituency Vaishali, the first republic in the world, which he represented five sucessive times till 2014, when he was defeated by LJP's Rama Singh.
He again lost in 2019.
In a moving tribute to the departed leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who received the news of his death when he was inaugurating a string of petroleum sector schemes for Bihar, called him a grassroots leader with deep understanding of poverty and problems of the poor.
"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, while referring to Singh's letter to the chief minister.
Singh cut his teeth in politics in Samyukta Socialist Party, before he became a member of the Bihar assembly in 1977.
He represented Belsand assembly seat multiple times and was also the chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council before making his Lok Sabha debut in 1996.
It was under his stewardship of the Union Rural Development Ministry that NREGA, the flagship rural livelihood scheme was implemented.
Notwithstanding his political successes, he kept himself away from the trappings of power.
He would love to have a chat with his constituents reclining on a charpoy sipping tea, and pronouncing ticket as 'tikas', like an obscure, unlettered villager from Bihar.
Not that he did not know. He just like it that way.