Patna, Feb 11 (PTI) Former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Sunday asserted that he valued his three-decade association with the BJP, and will continue to work for the party.
The 72-year-old leader, whose Rajya Sabha term ends next month, came out with a statement congratulating Dr Bhim Singh and Dr Dharmshila Gupta, who have been named as the BJP’s candidates for the upcoming biennial polls to the Upper House.
“Heartiest congratulations to Dr Bhim Singh and Dr Dharmshila Gupta upon being made the BJP candidates for Rajya Sabha polls in Bihar. There must be few party workers in the country who have got the opportunity to represent the party in all four Houses (of Parliament and state legislature) in the last 33 years. I will always remain grateful to the party and will continue to work for it as before,” he said.
Polls are scheduled for a total of six Rajya Sabha seats in the state, out of which the BJP-led NDA is expected to contest three, leaving one for ally JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which is yet to announce its own candidate.
The candidature of Gupta, who heads the state BJP women’s wing, is also being seen as an attempt to pacify the ‘Vaishya’ community, which might feel unhappy over denial of ticket to Modi, who has for long been regarded as one of the tallest leaders the party has produced in Bihar.
Singh, who had joined the BJP less than a decade ago quitting the JD(U), when the two parties were not aligned together, belongs to the ‘Chandravanshi’ caste and his choice seems to be in line with the party’s aggressive bid to woo the extremely backward classes (EBCs), who are politically disorganised despite being numerically powerful and have, so far, been loyal towards Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile, state Congress spokesman Asit Tiwari issued a statement alleging that denial of another Rajya Sabha term to Modi was tantamount to “the BJP’s plan to send him to political old-age home, where he will join the likes of Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti”.
A product of the students’ movement in Bihar led by Jayaprakash Narayan, Modi began his political career as an MLA from the now-abolished Patna Central seat in 1990, and rose to the position of Leader of the Opposition six years later.
He hogged limelight as one of the litigants on whose petition the Patna High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the fodder scam in which the then chief minister Lalu Prasad, the RJD president, would be convicted years later.
Modi made his Lok Sabha debut in 2004 from Bhagalpur, but returned to Bihar a year later, when the NDA swept the assembly polls, to take over as the deputy CM, a post he held for more than a decade.
The senior BJP leader was known to have excellent equations with Kumar, which helped in smooth functioning of the coalition in the state but also, according to his detractors in his own party, proved to be his undoing.
In 2020, after the BJP outperformed the JD(U) in assembly polls, Modi was stripped of the deputy CM’s post, even as Kumar made little secret of the discomfiture he felt at the development.
Modi was, thereafter, sent to the Rajya Sabha from a seat that had fallen vacant upon the death of former Union minister and LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan. PTI NAC RBT