President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes to veteran Bihar politician and ex-RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh who died this morning in Delhi. Mr Singh,74, who was being treated at AIIMS Delhi, was on ventilator support after his condition deteriorated rapidly over the past two days. He died at around 11 AM after complaining of breathlessness, according to news agency PTI.
President Kovind, in his condolence message, said that Mr Singh was an "outstanding leader rooted to ground" and had phenomenal understanding of rural India.
"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," he said.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the Bihar politician while speaking at the launch of petroleum projects in Bihar. "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," PM Modi said.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh Ji is no longer among us. I pay my tributes to him: PM @narendramodi- narendramodi_in (@narendramodi_in) September 13, 2020
Mr Singh's long-time associate and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was among the first politicians to pay tribute to the Bihar leader.
"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," Mr Prasad tweeted shortly after news of Mr Singh's death was made public.
Lalu Prasad Yadav's son and political heir, Tejashwi Yadav, told news agency ANI that he was in regular contact with the doctors who were treating him. "Passing away of #RaghuvanshPrasadSingh has left us alone. I had met him recently in AIIMS, Delhi where he was admitted. We were in regular contact with the doctors who were treating him," Mr Yadav was quoted as saying by ANI.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh had 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.
But Lalu Yadav made it clear he was not giving up on his old friend.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said that he was shocked at the death of former Union Minister. Mr Naidu remembered the Raghuvansh Prasad Singh as "enlightened MP and a popular political activist" who had a strong voice for the interests of the weaker sections and rural development.
"I am shocked at the death of former Union Minister and senior leader Shri Raghuvansh Prasad Singh! He was an enlightened MP and a popular political activist. In his long and glorious public life, he had a strong voice for the interests of the weaker sections and rural development," Mr Naidu tweeted in Hindi.
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.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot tweeted:
Saddened by the demise of Raghuvansh Babu. He was a true son of the soil politician. A delight to work with and someone who genuinely echoed the trials and tribulations of the poor.- Sachin Pilot (@SachinPilot) September 13, 2020
His advocacy and contributions towards empowering rural India will be long remembered. RIP https://t.co/fnfozFAMwr
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.