PATNA: A close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday asserted that RCP Singh's statement thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his stint in the Union cabinet was "proof" that the then JD(U) president had lapped up the ministerial berth without the consent of the party.
Ashok Choudhary, an influential minister in the state who formerly headed the JD(U)'s state unit, also upbraided Singh for making the self-righteous claim that he owed his meteoric rise in politics to his own abilities, in an apparent bid to undermine the patronage of Kumar, the JD(U)'s de facto leader.
"I heard the statement RCP Singh gave here yesterday. 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," Choudhary told PTI.
Singh, who had resigned from the Union cabinet on Wednesday, a day before the expiry of his Rajya Sabha term, had spoken to journalists upon his return to his home state.
Choudhary also took exception to Singh's haughty claim that he has risen in politics on his own (apne dam par)".
"What has been his contribution? He resigned from the IAS in 2010 and then joined the party. He rose to the top post in the party without ever having gone through the rough and tumble of politics. He owes this to the patronage (kripa) of Nitish Kumar," Choudhary said.
He also sneered at Singh's claim that he was an "organisation builder" who had helped to strengthen the party structure and asked "does he think even a few hundred people will gather if he tries to address a public meeting? Nobody in JD(U) except our undisputed leader Nitish Kumar has that type of calibre".
The political stock of Singh has nosedived ever since he was denied a third consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, which jeopardised his continuance in the cabinet, besides sending across the message that he was no more a blue-eyed boy of the chief minister.
"RCP Singh should remember that but for the patronage of Nitish Kumar, he would never have been elected to the Rajya Sabha," Choudhary pointed out.
Knives are out for the former national president, who was previously the party's national general secretary (organization) and is said to have treaded on many toes in that capacity.
Criticisms are coming not just from powerful leaders like Choudhary but also from those lower down in the party hierarchy.
"RCP Singh claims he has built the organisation. He should be told that JD(U), which won 71 seats in 2015, saw its tally plummet to under 45 under his stewardship in the 2020 assembly polls," said JD(U) spokesperson Arvind Nishad.
The most stinging remark, though, came from the opposition RJD which has softened its stance towards the chief minister ever since a headcount of castes was ordered by his government and, later, when the JD(U) leadership refused to back the BJP on Agnipath.
"RCP Singh owed his existence in politics to the benevolence of Nitish Kumar.
But he seemed to have forgotten the old adage -- paani mein rakhar magar se bair (don't annoy the crocodile if you are an aquatic being).
Now he must wait for four years after which he may be employed as a security guard by the BJP at its office," said RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to Kailash Vijayavargiya's much-criticised statement.
"He, however, cannot hope for an honorific like Agniveer because he did not serve in the armed forces. But if the BJP pleases, it may give him the title of Matdaataveer," added Tiwari.