Veteran Bihar politician and ex-RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh - who submitted his resignation letter to Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday - died Sunday morning at AIIMS in Delhi. He was 74 years old. Less than an hour later a shocked Lalu Prasad tweeted: "Dear Raghuvansh babu! What did you do?"
Mr Singh tested positive for COVID-19 in June, after which he was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Patna. He was re-admitted to AIIMS in Delhi, where he was being treated for post-Covid complications.
His condition deteriorated rapidly over the past two days and he was placed on a ventilator. He died at around 11 AM after complaining of breathlessness, according to news agency PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who this morning was speaking at the launch of petroleum projects in Bihar, began his speech by paying tribute to Mr Singh. "Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is no more among us. His demise has left a void in the political sphere of Bihar as well as the country," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also told Chief Minister Nitish Kumar "we should try our best to fulfill the spirit that Raghuvansh Prasad has expressed in his last letter".
"I would urge Nitishji that you and we (the BJP) should try our best to fulfill the spirit that Raghuvansh Prasad has expressed in his last letter. Raghuvanshji had... sent a list of his development works to the Chief Minister of Bihar. (Concern for) the people of Bihar (and) concern for the development of Bihar appears in that letter," PM Modi said.
A long-time associate of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh rattled Mr Yadav and the RJD on Friday by turning in a handwritten resignation letter.
"After (former Chief Minister and socialist icon) Karpuri Thakur's death, I stood by you for 32 years, but no more," he wrote in a not-so-steady hand, adding that he had received love and support from the party.
Mr Singh had been unhappy for some time with the party, which Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav has been running since his father went to jail on corruption charges. Among his biggest concerns was Tejashwi's move to welcome Rama Singh, who had defeated him in the 2014 general election.
But Lalu Yadav made it clear he was not giving up on his old friend so easily, and sent back a handwritten reply of his own, writing: "...I cannot believe it... First you get better, then we will talk. You are not going anywhere. Know it."
This morning an anguished Lalu Prasad tweeted: "Dear Raghuvansh babu! What did you do? I told you the day before yesterday, you are not going anywhere. But you went so far. I am speechless. I am sad. Will miss you very much."
Tejashwi Yadav, also tweeted condolences, saying that Mr Singh had been one of the few to inspire him following his father being sent to jail.
"Respected Raghuvansh babu! A few days ago I spoke to you at AIIMS.... you said you would come out soon and (we would fight hard together. Only a few people have been giving (me) energy and inspiration after (my) father (went) to jail... you have gone and made me almost alone," Tejashwi Yadav said.
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, a Union Minister from Bihar, also expressed his sorrow, praising Mr Singh as a politician who focused on the issues and fought for social justice.
"The death of Raghuvansh Prasad Singhji, a senior leader of RJD, is a big blow to the politics of Bihar. Raghuvansh babu always did politics based on issues and throughout his life he fought for social justice and the rights of the exploited, deprived and backward. May his soul rest in peace," Mr Paswan tweeted.
Mr Singh's letter of resignation came months before Assembly polls are due in Bihar.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh represented the state's Vaishali constituency and was the Union Minister for Rural Development in the Congress-led UPA-I government. He also served as Union Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, as well as Food and Consumer Affairs.
A politician of nearly four decades, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was widely regarded as an expert in the rural and agricultural landscape of the country and is credited with the conceptualisation and implementation of the NREGA (National Rural Guarantee Employment) Act.
With input from PTI