RK Singh (in blue) with BJP president Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh
Patna, Dec. 13: Former Union home secretary and 1975-batch Indian Administrative Service officer Raj Kumar Singh is beginning a new innings, in politics. He joined the BJP today.
Singh retired as Union home secretary on June 30. “I decided to join politics because I want to carry forward my commitment to serve society,” Singh told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi. But his decision to join the BJP is seen as a major jolt to chief minister Nitish Kumar, as sources say the chief minister wanted Singh on his side. “Singh was about to join as adviser (infrastructure) to chief minister, a post created through cabinet approval. There were also plans to field Singh on a JD(U) ticket in the coming general elections. But Singh backed out at the last hour without citing any reason,” a source in the state government said.
The former bureaucrat, however, didn’t mince words when asked the reasons for not accepting the Bihar government offer. “I didn’t want to stand with someone (read Nitish Kumar), who, I believe, is going soft on terrorism and Naxalites. The CM’s new-found love for the Congress, particularly after he parted ways with the BJP, also baffled me because the Congress has become an epitome of corruption,” Singh said.
JD(U) MP and senior party leader Shivanand Tiwari confirmed the Bihar government wanted R.K. Singh as an adviser. “Singh is an honest person, but after retiring from government service he chose to join BJP and it is his prerogative,” he said.
During the Nitish government’s first term, Singh, as principal secretary in the road construction department, had played a vital role in scripting a turnaround of the condition of roads in Bihar. This achievement was showcased prominently during the 2009 general elections and the assembly elections the year after in which then NDA partners — JD(U) and BJP — registered a thumping victory.
A native of Supaul district in Bihar, Singh justified his decision to join the BJP at a time when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is being seen as a platform for honest and upright persons, with Singh carrying a similar image.
“The BJP is the only party, at present, that can replace the Congress as far as forming a government at the Centre is concerned. The Congress government has become synonymous with corruption, hence I decided to join the BJP,” he said.
He also said the Congress government had lost connect with the people. “Had it not been the case, Congress leaders would have spoken first on issues like Lokpal, which concerns one and all, but they (read Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) chose to issue statements on the Supreme Court judgment on Section 377, which concerns only a section of society,” he said.
BJP sources said party leader Shahnawaz Hussain, also from Supaul, played a major role in convincing Singh to join the party.
Singh is not at all worried about joining L.K. Advani’s party. As registrar, cooperative societies, in Patna in 1990, he was sent to Samastipur when the then Lalu Prasad government decided to arrest Advani during his “rath yatra”.
“Advaniji never made it an issue, as I was doing my duty as a government officer. Testimony to this is that when I was posted as joint secretary in the Union home ministry when Advani was minister in 2000, he never objected to my posting despite knowing that I was the officer who had arrested him,” Singh said.
Revealing his plan to contest Lok Sabha elections from Bihar, Singh said BJP leaders had already consented to the same and the seat from where he would contest would be decided in due course.
Terming Singh’s decision to join the BJP a good one, former road construction minister and BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav said, “R.K. Singh is an upright and honest man and the party would be strengthened by his presence. I can say so because I have worked with him and his credentials are impeccable.”
Retired bureaucrat and 1964-batch IAS officer Abhimanyu Singh, too, welcomed Singh’s decision to join politics. “R.K. is an upright man whose integrity cannot be questioned. It is really heartening to know that a person like him is joining politics,” he said.Similar was the opinion of several of Singh’s juniors, presently holding important posts in the Nitish government. “R.K. sir was an asset to the government as an officer and now he would be an asset to the BJP because he means business,” a secretary in the Bihar government said.
Interestingly, Singh is more than willing to live up to the expectations of his seniors and juniors. “People know my nature. I work on my own terms and never make compromises. Nothing is going to change on this front even after joining the BJP,” Singh said.