RCP Singh May Lose His Patna Bungalow in Addition to Union Cabinet Berth

Union minister RCP Singh, who was recently denied another term in Rajya Sabha by the JD(U) he headed a year ago, may now have to give up the sprawling bungalow in Patna he had been occupying for a few years. A notification was issued by the Building Construction Department earlier this week stating that the ministerial bungalow 07, Strand Road, will be allotted to the state’s chief secretary.

“It must be clarified that the bungalow was not allotted to RCP Singh. It was allotted to JD(U) MLC Sanjay Gandhi who consented to allow RCP to live there. We have now allotted Gandhi another bungalow on the same road,” said Ashok Choudhary, the minister for Building Construction Department. Choudhary, who is a trusted aide of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the JD(U)’s de facto leader, insisted that there was “no political angle” and that the chief secretary had been assigned the bungalow since 07, Circular Road, where the state’s top bureaucrat earlier resided, was currently occupied by the CM himself.

“It is well known that the CM’s official residence 01, Anney Marg, is more than 100 years old and undergoing extensive repair work. Hence, he has moved to 07, Circular Road. In due course, it was decided to make his current abode a part of the chief minister’s official residence and assign a new house to the chief secretary,” said Choudhary. The explanation, however, is likely to be taken with a pinch of salt by the state’s residents who have a reputation for seeing through political intrigues.

Singh, who holds the important steel portfolio in the Narendra Modi government, has his cabinet berth in jeopardy as his Rajya Sabha term expires in July. A former IAS officer who entered politics in 2010, Singh, known by his initials “RCP” in political circles, had a meteoric rise in politics thanks to his proximity to the chief minister whom he had served in various capacities since Kumar’s stint as the railway minister.

The elevation of Singh as the JD(U)’s national president in January last year, when Kumar gave up the top post in the party, raised many eyebrows. Within a few months, Singh became a Union minister and people close to Kumar said that the ambitious bureaucrat-turned-politician had lobbied for himself without taking the mentor into confidence. The wily Kumar bared his teeth by making Singh quit the party president’s post which is now held by his old associate Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan.

Denial of another Rajya Sabha term, which could cost Singh his place in the Union cabinet, and now “ouster” from the bungalow which was seen as an unofficial perk, has stunned “RCP loyalists” who now seem to be making all efforts to demonstrate that their loyalty rests with Nitish Kumar and none else. Kumar, who insists that RCP was dropped because “the party” wanted to give a chance to its Jharkhand unit chief Kheeru Mahto, has left his former protg puzzled by saying he need not resign as Union minister since his tenure in Parliament is not yet over.

The baiters of RCP Singh are, meanwhile, strutting about with a barely suppressed schadenfreude.

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