The decision to eject Sushil Kumar Modi from Bihar’s politics and as a confidant of Nitish Kumar was seen by many as a masterstroke to not just clip the chief minister’s wings but also drive home the point that the BJP was the ‘big brother’ in the state.
As buzz grows around Bihar’s former deputy chief minister joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team in Delhi, political experts feel the role was long overdue.
Sushil Kumar Modi, considered the trouble-shooter of Kumar in the BJP, had played a silent role in amicably running the NDA government even at the cost of facing criticism for ‘bowing before Kumar’ by a section of BJP leaders, especially the younger generation within the saffron party. He acted as a bridge between the Janata Dal (U) leadership and the BJP via senior leaders like late Arun Jaitley and Ram Lal.
The bond between Kumar and Sushil Modi goes back to early seventies when both of them were active in students’ politics of Patna University and in due course worked together as member of the triumvirate of the JP movement in 1974 – Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi, wrote senior journalist Ashok Mishra for News18.
They were active in the anti-Emergency movement in Bihar and arrested under MISA. Modi was also prime-mover in challenging clause 9 of the MISA, which was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court. Modi along with Saryu Roy, Shivanand Tiwari and Lallan Singh had also filed the Public Interest Litigation in the Patna High Court over financial irregularities in the animal husbandry department referred to as fodder scam.
When the NDA came to power in November 2005, Sushil Kumar Modi was the ideal choice for the post of the deputy chief minister because he was not considered a threat to Kumar. Both of them shared a steady working relationship and Modi efficiently delivered his responsibilities as finance minister and other departments he held. Modi was also made the chairman of the group of finance ministers on GST by virtue of being the finance minister of Bihar. He was on the GST panel even in the UPA government.
However, it was this “close association” that cost Modi dearly. Senior BJP leaders opined that Sushil Modi was ideal for the post of deputy chief minister till the time the party wanted to keep Kumar in good humour.
Mishra had then suggested that since Modi had been a loyal and disciplined soldier of the RSS and BJP, he was expected to be elevated to the union council of ministers on a suitable post or given organisational responsibilities.