JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan, popularly known as Lalan Singh, was on Saturday chosen as its national president at the party's national executive meeting here. He replaces R C P Singh, who offered to step down as he has been inducted as a Cabinet minister in the Modi Government. Lalan Singh is JD (U)’s first upper-caste national president.
Lalan Singh, a Bhumihar MP from Munger Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar, has long been a close confidant of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the main face of his party.
The JD (U) passed a number of resolutions, including reiterating its position that the Central Government should come out with caste census, an issue with potentially wide political ramifications. It also spoke against any coercive measures like the enactment of laws to control population growth, as proposed in UP and Assam ruled by its NDA ally, BJP.
JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi told reporters that coercive policies had failed
during the Emergency, even as he added his party was in support of steps to control the growth of population.
Lalan Singh asserted after taking over that he will work to strengthen the JD(U) in different parts of the country and will reach out to those leaders who were once part of the organisation but have drifted away for some reasons.
Kumar, whose party's equation with the ally BJP has been uneven, also attended the national executive meeting and is scheduled to have a luncheon meeting with INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala on Sunday.
Tyagi, however, said that politics should not be read into it as both leaders go back many decades and share similar socialist background.
Chautala was released from jail sometime back after being convicted on corruption charges.
The JD(U) MPs have also sought time from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press upon their demand that the Centre should come out with caste census as it will
help shape development schemes and make them more targeted, he said.
The Government had told Parliament in March this year that there is no proposal at
present to release the report of the caste census carried out in 2011.
After independence, India decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs, it had said in March.