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Failure to clinch deal with Congress costs NK Singh Rajya Sabha seat

Despite getting the London School of Economics (LSE) to take note of the ‘growth story of Bihar’ last week, bureaucrat NK Singh has failed to keep his Rajya Sabha seat. The former government of India secretary has paid the price for his inability to get an alliance going between the Congress and his party, the Janata Dal (United). The JD(U) has decided not to re-nominate its three retiring members, Shivanand Tiwari and Shabir Ali being the other two, for the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha to be held on 7 February. However, Singh, a permanent fixture in the national capital’s political and corporate circle, was Kumar’s pointsman for a very long time and was believed to be instrumental in goading Nitish into making the party snap ties with the BJP.

To soothe ruffled feathers, the retiring members have been offered party tickets to contest Lok Sabha seats from Banka (NK Singh), Buxar (Shivanand Tiwari) and Sheohar (Shabir Ali). All the three are weak seats from the JD(U)’s point of view.

Singh as bureaucrat held important positions in all governments led by different political parties that came to power at the Centre in the 1990s and the early part of last decade. He adversely hit the headlines in 2010 when his name cropped up in the infamous Nirra Radia tapes, trying to manipulate the parliamentary debate to get retroactive tax rebates to Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries. Singh had defended his position claiming that he was batting for national
‘energy security’.  The decision to drop him and others was taken by party boss and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who decided to do away with Singh and not replace him with another high-profile former diplomat Pavan Verma, as the duo could do little to get Bihar the special package from Centre. The candidates who have been given Rajya Sabha tickets are Ramnath Thakur, Harivansh and Kahkashan Perween. Thakur is son of former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur, an icon of backward politics in the state. Harivansh is editor-in-chief of Hindi newspaper Prabhat Khabar while Perween is also a JD-U leader from backward classes. The selection of candidates is based on consolidating the party’s social base of most backward classes and pasbanda Muslims.
With the Congress all set to go to polls in alliance with former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, Kumar is chalking out fresh strategy for the upcoming LS polls. While breaking his nearly two-decade old alliance with the BJP, Nitish had banked on an alliance with the Congress and hoped to get special financial package from the Centre. The deal was negotiated by NK Singh and with it falling through, the bureaucrat’s exit was expected.

Meanwhile, the BJP, in its central election committee meeting,  announced names of seven candidates for the upcoming LS polls on Friday evening. Party sources said from Madhya Pradesh Satyanarayan Jatia and Prabhat Jha have been nominated. From Rajasthan, Ramnarayan Dudi and Narayan Panchariya were picked, while from Bihar, C P Thakur and RK Sinha were chosen. The party may announce the candidates for Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam and Jharkhand  on Saturday.
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