Matchless humility was what Ramashray Prasad Singh stood for during his five-decade-long political career that came to an end on Saturday night.
The veteran JD(U) leader — who had begun his legislative career as a member of the Legislative Council in 1962 — died at a hospital in Gurgaon on Saturday, just 11 days short of completing 83 years.
Bihar, in its annals, has few leaders — he had been an MLC till his last breath — who had such a long legislative career.
The goodwill that the soft-spoken leader earned during his lifetime came to the fore when his body landed at Patna airport at 3.15pm. Nagaland Governor Nikhil Kumar, chief minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary and Council chairman Awadhesh Narayan Singh besides hundreds of leaders and workers from several parties greeted his mortal remains at the airport.
Nitish announced a two-day state mourning. “His body will be cremated with state honour at the Digha ghat on Monday,” said a family source. He said Singh’s daughter and son-in-law, settled in US, were on way to Patna. “The body will be cremated only after their arrival,” said the source.
Prior to joining the Nitish cabinet in 2005, Singh remained a Congressman throughout his life. Barring a brief pause, he remained a lawmaker for most part of his life. He won from several Assembly seats, including Kurtha, Makhdumpur, Warsaliganj and Koch, between 1972 and 2005. He was elected to the Council in 2006 after losing from Makhdumpur in 2005. He was re-elected as an MLC in 2012.
Nitish said: “He was the rarest of the rare breed of leaders. He was like a guardian to all of us.” The RJD chief, Lalu Prasad, echoed Nitish: “He was like our guardian. The state has lost a great leader.”
“The Congress, at its Jaipur session, made a special reference to Singh for his long association with the party,” state Congress chief Mehboob Ali Quaiser said.