The importance of being Harivansh Narayan Singh



New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) In spite of the PM stressing the Rajya Sabha Chairman's 'humility' and the JDU claiming how 'simple' he is, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh is a powerful man whose role isn't restricted to the conduct of the Upper House. The genesis of Singh's prominence goes back to the days when he covered the fodder scam involving former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad as a journalist, the treasury bench's wrong floor management strategies and the forthcoming Bihar elections.

Him being a journalist was mentioned in the Upper House even the day he won defeating RJD's Manoj Jha. The JDU leader is often given credit for the success and wide readership of 'Prabhat Khabar', a leading daily in Bihar and Jhharkhand. As Chief Editor, Singh has been instrumental in giving Lalu Prasad's role in the fodder scam wider coverage.

With the former Bihar CM now behind bars after being convicted in a number of fodder scams, the importance of being Harivansh Narayan Singh is huge.

So when a Derek O'Brien (TMC) tears documents in front of his face shouting, "You cannot do this" or a Sanjay Singh (AAP) snatches the mic and upturns a desk not far from the Deputy Chairman's seat, animatedly clapping at him -- the message that is communicated back home in Bihar is unfavourable for the non-NDA parties.

The BJP has immediately made it an issue of "attack on Bihar". "I would like to mention a point here as every person in Bihar is deeply hurt. The people of Bihar will give a befitting reply to their behaviour," said Bihar's Deputy CM Sushil Modi.

Later in Rajya Sabha, NDA MPs also claimed that people in Bihar were "filled with rage".

While the opposition may have got united, derived enough air time on TV with their protest and has made plans of backing farmer protests across India, the symbolism may prove costly for them in Bihar which will go to polls in a few months.

Harivansh Narayan Singh's role became even more important after the government's floor management plans went awry. Tasks allocated to certain top leaders on Sunday did not go as planned and the BJD's opposition added to the government's woes.

The Odisha-based party which has been backing the government on many legislations, argued that the Bills did not have any provisions to benefit small and marginal farmers.

While the opposition claims the government lacked the numbers and hence a ruckus suited it, the treasury benches insist that on the given day, it was the opposition members who were absent.

Be as it may, the rest as they say was history -- Pandemonium, adjournments, bringing a no-confidence motion against Harivansh Narayan Singh and then suspension of the eight erring MPs.

While the opposition tried to build a 'biased and killer of democracy' narrative against Singh, in Bihar he was portrayed as a 'victim'.

Moreover, coming from the Rajput community, it adds insult to injury, given the community's new found sense of victimhood after another son of the soil and fellow Rajput -- Actor Sushant Singh died in Mumbai under mysterious circumstances.

In a state where caste plays a dominant role in polls, this could mean further trouble for the opposition.

The importance of the 'simple' Harivansh Narayan Singh is enormous in today's polity.


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