Failure to strike an alliance with the Congress has cost Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s top aide clout in the party. A classic example of having fallen from grace, bureaucrat turned politician NK Singh has not only been denied a Rajya Sabha ticket, but is being ignored in party as well in the crucial decision making.
The former revenue secretary Singh was entrusted by the chief minister to convince the Congress for a pre-poll alliance. But the Congress went along with its old partner Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav, dumping alliance talks with the JD (U).
According to sources, immediately after JD(U) broke its 17 year long association with the BJP in June last year, Singh had convinced Nitish Kumar and other JD (U) leaders that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was ready to dump Yadav due to his conviction in corruption case. Singh remained in touch with two senior Congress leaders – finance minister P Chidambaram and former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh.
However, a report on the ground situation submitted to the top Central leaders of Congress by the state Congress unit changed it all for Singh. A state congress functionary told dna, “We conducted a survey at all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and conveyed to the central leadership that it would not be in the interest of the party go with JD (U) in the state. JD (U) has lost a majority of its support base and there is huge anti-incumbency against the party in the state.” This report was submitted to the central leaders in October end – almost a month after Lalu was convicted in the fodder scam case and sent to jail on September 30.
The widespread feeling inside the JD(U) is that Singh is being sidelined and failure on the alliance part could be the reason for the denial of RS ticket. “Why would he be asked to contest Lok Sabha election in the eleventh hour, otherwise?” asked a JD(U) functionary. Singh, meanwhile, has refused to contest Lok Sabha polls. Senior leader KC Tyagi disapproved the alliance talks and said, “One may like to read it anyway. But the party wanted to send new panel and new people to the Rajya Sabha.”
As far as intellectuals to serve as opinion makers on behalf of Nitish Kumar is concerned, he has no dearth. Singh, at his peak of association with Kumar served an interface between the industry and the Bihar government. Singh organised an industry meet in Patna in 2007 in which list of delegates included RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani. Singh is a 1964 batch IAS officer and served as principal secretary to PM, finance secretary and Planning Commission member.