Why has Sushil Modi been left in the lurch ? Is he paying the price for being close to Nitish Kumar ?
Sushil Modi stands heads and shoulders above several new ministers inducted into the Union Council of Ministers on Wednesday. But he finds himself left out by the party he has faithfully served
Is it the end of the road for Sushil Kumar Modi, the virtual face of Bihar BJP for three long decades? In Bihar, BJP meant SuMO. But like his mentor LK Advani, Sushil Modi too finds himself in the political dog house. It was widely speculated that he would be made a Union minister this time. But he appears to have been left in the lurch, even as the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar settled for one ministerial berth from his own party the JD(U) rather than the four he was clamouring for. Has Sushil Modi paid the price for being too close to Nitish Kumar ?
In any case, the just completed cabinet reshuffle was a now or never moment for the Modi Jr. If Modi Sr’s style of functioning is anything to go by, this must be the first and last reshuffle of the present government mandated to rule till 2024. Bihar assembly elections would be due only towards the end of 2025 and as such the state is unlikely to hit the political radar any time soon.
Even if BJP does not lose the 2024 elections, there is little on the plate for Sushil Modi. By that time, SuMO would be approaching the age of superannuation in the new BJP thereby making him eligible for the membership of the ‘Marg Datshak Mandal’.
One thing that can be said with certainty about Sushil’s Modi’s continued marginalisation is that all talk of merit is just that, talk. The Prime Minister does not seem to have walked the talk when it comes to Sushil Modi.
Going by the profile of the new ministers, Sushil Modi, on any day would stand taller than most of the fresh inductees recruited from the normal political channels. Known as a politician who does his home work well (a rarity in today’s politics), Sushil Modi is reasonably articulate without being too much in your face like Ravishankar Prasad. Once in a while, his arguments appear to be over-the-top but that does not make him any less interesting.
When it comes to experience, Sushil Modi, as number two in Nitish’s cabinet has helmed the all important Finance portfolio and his track record in the GST Council too has been impressive. It is politics and not merit deficiency that has taken a toll of SuMO’s career.
Political observes feel that divided loyalties have come to haunt Sushil Modi. By all indications, his head is in the BJP and heart with Nitish if not the JD (U). Alliance notwithstanding, Nitish Kumar continues to be looked with scepticism by those at the helm of affairs. Known as a Nitish chum, Sushil Modi is not acceptable to the party top brass. It is punishment by default. By flogging Sushil Modi, BJP leadership may consider it as a blow to Nitish.
More than once, Sushil Modi saw PM material in Nitish Kumar, something akin to political blasphemy in MS (Modi - Shah) BJP. Not only that, during the famous withdrawal of dinner invite for PM Modi (the then Gujarat CM) by Nitish, Sushil Modi did not feel unduly enraged.
This is not the first time that Sushil Modi has got a raw deal by the party leadership. In fact he faced initial hiccups on account of marrying outside the Sanatan Dharma. Sushil Modi married a Christian woman and paid the price as he was denied party ticket from Patna Central assembly seat in 1990, thereby delaying his legislative debut by a good five years.
But with patrons like Advani and Govindacharya, Sushil Modi bounced back and for decades he remained BJP’s synonym in the state. He has also got the distinction of being the member of all four houses viz Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Bihar legislative assembly and Bihar Legislative Council.
Ironically enough, whereas BJP brags about its social engineering and Dalit - OBC centric politics, it has politically annihilated one of the first and most prominent OBC’s faces of the party, who, executed Govindacharya’s social engineering model in Bihar politics at a time when Lalu claimed to be the master of the art known as social engineering.
Ganga has become much more murky in the last three decades and as such Sushil Modi’s purification is unlikely to take place. By all indications, it is the Advani moment for Bihar’s Modi.