Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in this file photo dated March 16, 2011 at Parliament House
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in this file photo dated March 16, 2011 at Parliament House
PTI

Former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh on Sunday died at AIIMS, Delhi. He breathed his last around 11 am due to breathlessness and other complications, a close aide of him said.

He was 74. He is survived by two sons and a daughter, he said.

The veteran socialist leader was a close aide of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav but had quit the party earlier this week. The resignation was rejected by Lalu who had responded the hand-written letter with one of his own, saying "you are not going anywhere."

Raghuvansh Babu, as he was fondly called by people as well as politicians, was instrumental in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as the Rural Development Minister in the UPA-1 government of Manmohan Singh.

A leader, regarded as someone who always had his ears to the ground, fought for rural India. A lucid speaker, Raghuvansh Prasad's speech on NREGA in Lok Sabha in 2005 is a strong reminder of how he envisioned to achieve with flagship rural employment scheme.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, he said, "I would like to say 'zindabad' (long live) to all the members who have supported this bill. I want to recite this poem, Mr Speaker sir, 'aya rojgar kanun aawe, bekaari-gareebi mit jayegi. Manavta ki kaali bindi jhaar jhaar ho jayegi (employment law has come, it will remove unemployment and poverty. The black spot on humanity will disappear)'."

"Long live employment guarantee scheme. I pray to you to support this historic bill tp pass this unanimously to encourage the poor, generate employment and stop migration so India becomes the first row country by 2020," he had said.

A mathematician, who taught the subject at a Patna University before taking a political plunge, was once part of Karpuri Thakur's Cabinet. He later became a member of both the houses in Bihar and was a five-term Lok Sabha MP representing Vaishali.

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar talked to his son Satyaprakash and recalled his association with Raghuwansh babu. Nitish asked the resident commissioner to arrange transportation of the former union minister's body to Patna according to the covid-19 protocol. Cremation will take place with full state honours in Patna, the chief minister said.

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