Face of Bihar BJP Sushil Kumar Modi departs in solitude 

Sushil Kumar Modi with PM Narendra Modi

Image credit X @narendramodi

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Sushil Kumar Modi leaves behind deep void in Bihar BJP

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, May 13: Former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, passed away on Monday evening after a prolonged battle with cancer. He had announced his battle with neck cancer only a few weeks ago. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his party colleagues in paying rich tribute to Sushil Kumar Modi.
The deceased BJP leader was 72 years old. He passed away at AIIMs in New Delhi. In his death, Sushil Kumar Modi has left a deep void in the Bihar unit of the BJP, as well as the state politics.
Sushil Kumar Modi is widely hailed as the architect of the BJP in Bihar. Under his leadership, the BJP expanded beyond the confines of Patna, the state capital. He also gained respect among his peers for his austere lifestyle.
Sushil Kumar Modi owed his political career to the students’ agitation in the 1970s. Not hailing from a dominant caste, Sushil Kumar Modi inherited the organisational acumen from Kailashpati Mishra, the saffron stalwart in Bihar.
An avid reader of newspapers, including business dailies, Sushil Kumar Modi toiled to gain acceptance of the BJP among the masses. He knew his limitations. He was not a mass leader.
Sushil Kumar Modi found his pal in Ashwani Kumar Choube. The Brahmin BJP leader was an aggressive speaker. Sushil Kumar Modi and Choube carried the saffron flag in Bihar.
The BJP in Bihar had been known as a party of Brahmin and Baniya. With Kailashpati Mishra at the helm for several years, the BJP also had gained acceptance among Bhumihars in the state. Sushil Kumar Modi was aware in the 1990s that the BJP in the state had a limited vote catchment.
Sushil Kumar Modi was a nemesis of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. With eyes for details and an appetite for documentation, he soon was ready with his dossiers against Yadav. The fodder scam was the turning point in Bihar politics in the late 1990s.
Yadav’s close associate Nitish Kumar had turned ambitious after Yadav had appointed his wife, Rabri Devi, as the chief minister of the state. Sushil Kumar Modi joined hands with Kumar and the firebrand socialist George Fernandes.
Sushil Kumar Modi was able to break into the impregnable MY (Muslim-Yafav) fort of Lalu Prasad Yadav. The BJP’s upper caste vote base was given the booster dose of the non-Yadav backward castes.
The politically aspirational Kurmi-Koeri voters willingly backed the alliance of the BJP and the Samata Party of Nitish Kumar. Sushil Kumar Modi was, thus, the principal architect of the politics around the non-dominant backward caste.
The BJP had already experimented with the template of propping up non-dominant backward caste leaders. Kalyan Singh, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, hailed from the backward Lodh caste.
Sushil Kumar Modi propped up Nitish Kumar. The two became a new team in Bihar politics. In doing so, Sushil Kumar Modi was pragmatic to admit the limit of the appeal of the BJP. He admitted that the state was a land of the politics of social justice, and the Hindutva card will not be helpful.
In his death, Sushil Kumar Modi has left behind the Bihar unit of the BJP at crossroads. The BJP in Bihar is stuck in a bind. Sushil Kumar Modi was often accused of holding back the rise of the BJP by accepting an alliance with Kumar.
In fact, he knew that Kumar is the guarantor of the BJP’s stake in power in Bihar. Without Kumar, the BJP was crippeld. This wisdom of Sushil Kumar Modi was grudgingly accepted by the top brass of the party just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

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