NEW DELHI: Over the past few years, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, one of the last true Socialists, was aghast at the scale of money power influencing elections and deeply pained at the spectacle of dynasties holding the reins of the political outfits born out of the social justice movement.
Even in his last days, as he battled deteriorating health conditions, Raghuvansh Babu, concern for the people of Bihar was agitating his mind. At 74, Singh passed away at AIIMS-Delhi on Sunday after a prolonged illness.
Just four days ago, he had sent his resignation to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, of whom he had been a long associate, pained as he was at the party’s heir apparent ignoring his role in building it.
Sharp and witty, as parliamentary debates were a testimony, Singh served five terms as a Lok Sabha MP from Vaishali in Bihar.
He was one of the rare few who could question even Lalu, and yet, was held in high esteem by the former Bihar chief minister.
The mathematician-turned-politician is widely hailed as a Socialist who remained unblemished even as the RJD leadership was mired in scams and controversies. In critical situations, he showed a sense of exasperation to resign from the RJD, only to be turned down by party chief.
A few months ago, Singh was full of vigour, going ballistic against the scale of money poured in the electioneering and dynasties derailing the politics of social justice.
Sharing anecdotes with this reporter during the Budget session of Parliament, Singh remarked, “Politics now is not for people like me. From where can I arrange so much of money needed to contest elections? Even party workers now are used to being paid richly in times of elections.”
Leaders across the party lines remember Singh for shaping up the grand architecture of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act — now MGNREGA — cutting through the bureaucratic maze to give the UPA an electoral template to retain power in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
He was Union Minister for Rural Development in UPA-I. Singh had a long stint in the Bihar state legislature before he moved to national politics. He was impatient with the alibi of rules for not implementing decisions, saying they work in the government to get works done and not give excuses.