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Rajendra Singh: the RSS' dark horse in Bihar who could be CM

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 5:56 IST

The dark horse

  • If it wins Bihar, BJP could choose low profile Rajendra Singh as its CM
  • Singh is contesting from Dinara in Rohtas district. This is his first election
  • Dinara is considered a safe seat. The party is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his victory

The background

  • Known for his organisational skills, Singh has been worked with RSS for 32 years
  • He played a crucial role in the BJP\'s success in Jharkhand

More in the story

  • Why does the RSS favour Singh?
  • What do the people of Dinara have to say about him?
  • If he is the RSS choice, why is BJP keeping his name under wraps?

The National Highway 30 stretch between Arrah and Mohaniya is riddled with potholes. Our vehicle can't go any faster than 20 kmph. The driver curses us for taking this route.

The road, which falls under the central government, becomes worse as we pass the Kochas and Dinara areas of Rohtas district. We are told that the route is mostly used by trucks that are carrying goods towards the North-Eastern states.

Watch: What Bihar's Muslim girl students are saying about the election

We are suddenly overtaken by a convoy of SUVs with Jharkhand number plates, which is surprising since the road is not on the route to the state. Many of the vehicles have BJP flags fluttering on them.

We stop at a tea stall at Dinara. A man comes out from a Durga temple and approaches the tea stall. We ask him about the vehicles. "Rajendra Singh is contesting from Dinara. These vehicles have come to campaign for him," he tells us.

Singh was made the BJP's organisational in-charge for Jharkhand in 2013. The party did well under him, winning the Assembly elections in 2014. He is a powerful man in Jharkhand, so it isn't surprising that many of the workers campaigning for him are from the state.

RSS man

This is Singh's first election. Before this, he worked with the RSS and its sister organisations as a backroom operator for over 30 years.

Singh is truly in the RSS mould - simple, soft-spoken and down to earth. But behind this mild demeanour is a sharp RSS apparatchik. He has made his name for his competence ever since he joined the RSS in 1983.

But why has he suddenly plunged into electoral politics?

"This is a winnable seat for the BJP. He is the choice of the BJP and RSS here. He is one of the 46 RSS people contesting on a BJP ticket in the state," says a senior RSS functionary in Bihar.

"We need committed and efficient faces to lead the state and steer it in the right direction. He is the one. It is important that he wins. He has an important roles to play in the government," the functionary adds.

When Catch asked the RSS top brass in Bihar about who the BJP's CM face would be, they refused to comment. But as soon as we mentioned Rajendra Singh, a smile appeared on the faces.

If Rajendra Singh gets the top job, he will be the first Upper Caste CM of Bihar in 25 years

"He could be a possible candidate. He is young, competent and has a Sangh background. Only committed individuals can take politics in the right direction," said a senior RSS leader.

The speculation is that he could well be the Manohar Lal Khattar of Bihar. Like Khattar, Rajendra Singh is not very well known among the people and the media. He is a party full-timer with a good track record.

Even the BJP's high command - party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi - are aware of his capabilities. .

Though Singh denies having any chief ministerial ambitions, his supporters say that he is the NDA's CM candidate. No wonder that many senior national and state leaders made it a point to come and campaign for him.

A crucial assignment, which is said to have catapulted Singh to a different league in the BJP, came during the 2014 General Elections. He was responsible for co-ordinating volunteers in Modi's constituency Varanasi. He is said to have caught Modi's eye with his organising capabilities.

An RSS man, he has worked with sister organisations like the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Ram Janmbhoomi Mukti Andolan, besides many important positions in the BJP. He has a good understanding of politics and organisational matters in three states- Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

What the voters have to say

Rajesh Singh, a resident of Dinara, says "Rajendra Singh was born here. He used to go to a school in Kochas. There is no doubt that he will win".

But Guddu Rai disagrees. "People will vote for Jai Kumar Singh of the JD(U). Rajendra Singh is from here but he doesn't share the pain and problems of the local people. He is busy with his political responsibilities".

A science graduate from Allahabad University, Rajendra Singh is 49 years old. He was born in the Rohtas district, in which Dinara falls. But his village Gaura falls in the neighbouring Assembly seat Kargahar. Son of Captain Kashinath Singh, he is from the Rajput community, who dominate the area.

Also read: Failed by the justice system, how will the Dalits of Laxmanpur Bathe vote?

Singh's supporters are running an efficient campaign in Dinara. They realise how crucial his victory is. Even the state unit of the party is working extremely hard in the seat.

However, the party is extremely guarded about Singh as a possible CM candidate. In an election which is being seen as a battle between forward and backward castes, projecting a Rajput CM candidate would not be very prudent.

If he does get the top job, he would be the first Upper Caste chief minister in Bihar since 1990, the last one being Jagannath Mishra of the Congress. This prospect itself has the potential of triggering a backward caste backlash. No wonder the BJP is being secretive.

First published: 15 October 2015, 12:25 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.