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RS reward for Nitish’s trusted RCP

Patna, May 31: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has rewarded his trusted principal secretary Ram Chandra Prasad Singh with a Rajya Sabha seat.

A 1984-batch IAS officer from UP cadre, Singh has flown to Lucknow to demit his 26-year-old bureaucratic career and file his nomination papers for the Upper House.

A caste-man of Nitish and also a resident of Nalanda, which, too, happens to be the home district of the chief minister, Singh — popularly known as RCP in the state’s political and administrative circles — is to Nitish what RK Dhawan was to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

A proverbial shadow of Nitish for nearly 20 years, RCP — who is extremely low profile — is as much instrumental in deployment of the bureaucrats in the state as Dhawan was in appointment of civil servants while working with Indira.

“He (RCP) will be an asset to the party,” said state JD(U) chief Vijay Kumar Choudhary. But only time will tell if RCP goes on to attain the stature and clout of Dhawan who rose to the position of a Congress Working Committee member or Yashwant Sinha, an IAS officer-turned-politician from the state who went on to become both finance and external affairs ministers.

Incidentally, RCP is Bihar’s second principal secretary rank officer who will join active politics after Sinha. Sinha, an IAS officer of 1960-batch, was principal secretary to Nitish’s mentor and then chief minister Karpoori Thakur. He resigned from the IAS in 1984 and joined the Janata Party.

Despite their common background, there are striking dissimilarities between RCP and Sinha. After demitting his office as a babu, Sinha struggled hard to carve a niche in politics. He contested the Lok Sabha polls from Hazaribagh in 1984 as an Independent and lost. In early ’90s, he joined the BJP and went on to become finance minister again and external affairs minister in the A.B. Vajpayee government. At present, Sinha represents Hazaribagh in the Lok Sabha.

Unlike Sinha, who morphed himself from a top bureaucrat to a leader of his own making, RCP is being catapulted to the Rajya Sabha by his mentor, Nitish. His filing nomination papers is subject to the UP government accepting his wish to demit his bureaucratic career which RCP made evident by his remarks. “I am still a government servant. I will be in a position to tell something only when I am relieved of my present position,” he said before leaving for Lucknow.

RCP — who did MA from JNU, New Delhi — joined Nitish on central deputation when the latter became a deputy minister in the VP Singh government. RCP was also Nitish’s special secretary when he was railway minister in the Vajpayee government. He joined as principal secretary to the chief minister in 2005.

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