Shahpur (Bihar), Sep 14 (PTI) Former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, a founding member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal who enjoyed respect across the political spectrum, was cremated at his native village here on Monday with full state honours.
Singh (74) had breathed his last at AIIMS, New Delhi on Sunday, more than a week after being admitted to the ICU with post-COVID complications.
Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav and state ministers Neeraj Kumar and Jai Kumar Singh were among the host of dignitaries present at the ghat here along the river Ganges, about 55 kms from the Vaishali district headquarters of Hajipur, where the deceased leaders younger son Shashi Shekhar lit the funeral pyre.
Elder son Satya Prakash Singh was present on the occasion.
People joining the funeral procession including those lending shoulders to the arthi (bier) were in face mask in view of COVID pandemic.
Loud chants of 'Raghuvansh babu amar rahein' rent through the air amid gun salutes and guard of honour.
Fellow villagers who used to fondly call him by the name 'Brahma Baba' for his simple lifestyle and plain speaking were saddened by demise of the mathematics professor-turned- politician.
Singhs body was brought to his native district in the morning, in a huge procession that commenced from Patna where the mortal remains had arrived the previous night.
Tejashwi Yadav, RJD supremo Lalu Prasads younger son and heir apparent, had rushed to the airport where a large number of the late leaders admirers had reached to pay their last respects.
'You left us alone', exclaimed a visibly shaken Yadav, whose meteoric rise in the party and his alleged indifference towards the veteran leader, four decades his senior and a close aide of his father, had led Singh to step down as the RJDs national vice president a couple of months ago.
He announced his exit from the party, through a letter he penned while on the hospital bed, last week.
Yadav later also rushed to the state assembly where tributes were paid to Singh, who had been a member of both houses of the legislature for multiple terms.
Prominent among those who had arrived at the assembly were Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Vidhan Sabha Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary.
Before being brought to his native village, Singhs body was taken to the 'Vaishali Garh' a historical place which is said to be the seat of power of the worlds first republic besides having a prominent place in the life of the Buddha.
Singh had represented Vaishali in the Lok Sabha five times on the trot but failed to retain it in 2014 and could not wrest it back in the general elections last year.
Local residents give him full credit for the 'Buddha Smriti Stupa' which is being built in the district over an area of 72 acres at an estimated cost of Rs 432 crore.
He had served as the minister for rural development in UPA-1 government, and is often called the 'architect' of MGNREGA. PTI CORR NAC SNS NN NN