Ex-Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh passes away

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Patna/New Delhi: Former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, under whose stewardship of the rural development ministry the ambitious NREGA was launched by the Manmohan Singh government, died at AIIMS in the national capital where he was admitted for treatment of post-COVID complications, a close aide said.

Singh, a socialist stalwart, was 74, and his survived by two sons and a daughter. He had fallen critically ill on Friday night and was put on ventilator in the ICU.

Singh became breathless and developed other complications before breathing his last at 11 am, Kedar Yadav, a close associate of Singh told PTI by phone from New Delhi.

Avadhesh Kumar Singh, the former Union minister’s representative in Vaishali, said his mortal remains will be flown to Patna around 8 pm on Sunday. He will be cremated with full state honours at Hasanpur Ghat on the banks of the Ganga, about 15 km from his village Shahpur in Vaishali district.

Singh, a long-time friend and associate of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, had resigned from the party on Thursday and speculation was rife that he could join Bihar’s ruling JD(U) ahead of the state assembly polls likely in October-November. “Since the death of Jannayak Karpoori Thakur, I stood behind you for 32 years, but not now,” he had said in his brief one-line resignation letter to Prasad, who is serving sentences in four fodder scam cases in Ranchi. Hours later, Prasad wrote back from jail in complete disbelief.

“I don’t believe….A letter purportedly written by you is on social media. I, my family, and the RJD family that have nursed the party want you to get well soon and be amongst us,” Prasad wrote back. “For four decades, we have together discussed political, l discuss again. You are not going anywhere, you understand,” Prasad wrote in a handwritten letter that had the stamp of the prison authority.

The passing away of Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is tragic. An outstanding leader rooted to ground, Raghuvansh Babu was a true stalwart with phenomenal understanding of rural India. With his spartan and sagely lifestyle, he enriched public life. Condolences to his family & followers, Kovind tweeted.

In a moving tribute to the departed leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who received the news of his death when he was inaugurating a string of petroleum sector schemes for Bihar, called him a grassroots leader with deep understanding of poverty and problems of the poor.