Former deputy chief minister of Bihar and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday filed his nomination papers for the by-election to a Rajya Sabha seat in the state necessitated by the death of Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
Modi filed his nomination papers at the Patna commissioner’s office in the presence of a host of leaders of the ruling NDA, most notable being Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Modi thanked BJP’s central leadership and also NDA allies for their support. Earlier, Modi whose vigorous efforts in highlighting the fodder scam had made him a household name in Bihar in the 1990s when the BJP was still trying to make a mark in the states politics, visited the party office at the Birchand Patel Marg and received a rousing welcome.
At the Vidhan Sabha secretariat, besides Kumar and senior leaders of the BJP, those present included former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s son and minister Santosh Manjhi and state minister Mukesh Sahni who respectively head Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), the NDAs smaller constituents. The leaders flashed a victory sign, confident of Modi sailing through with the NDA enjoying a majority in the 243-member Assembly. If the opposition Grand Alliance fails to field a candidate by the last date of filing nominations on Thursday, Modi might end up getting declared elected unopposed on December 7 when withdrawal of nominations come to a close. Voting and counting are scheduled on December 14.
Nitish Kumar on Wednesday (December 2) hinted that his former deputy may bag a position in the central Cabinet, while congratulating him on his nomination to the Rajya Sabha.
“Now he’s going to be a member of the Rajya Sabha, so special congratulations to him. And I hope that in future, under the guidance of his party’s top leadership, he will get a chance to serve the nation and he will get opportunities to work more in the days to come. We are very happy,” Nitish was quoted as saying by NDTV.
While it is expected that Modi, the senior-most BJP leader in Bihar will be elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed, it is being speculated that he may be given a cabinet berth later.
The grief of parting with a comrade of 11 years was evident in the Bihar chief minister’s voice.
“We worked together and our wishes were known to everyone. But every party takes its own decisions and if they are taking him from here to the Centre, then it’s a matter of happiness. He will be among those to be a member of all the four houses (in Bihar and in Parliament),” Kumar said.
Modi and Kumar’s pair is often referred to as the Ram-Lakshman Jodi in Bihar because of their friendship and professional chemistry. Kumar had to let go of his deputy after the BJP, now a senior ally in Bihar, decided to nominate Modi to the Rajya Sabha and replace him with two deputy chief ministers from the party.
The opposition coalition, in particular its largest constituent RJD, which has been at the receiving end of Modi’s attacks on Lalu Prasad and his family, had reacted with predictable peeve when his candidature was announced by the BJP. The party had thrown a fit over the seat being denied to the Lok Janshakti Party, founded by the late Paswan, out of “khunnas” (spite) against his son Chirag who now heads the party and had dented the NDA in the recently held assembly elections by going solo. The RJD had also offered to support the LJP if it considered fielding Reena Paswan, the late minister’s wife. However, Chirag categorically ruled his party out of the race on Tuesday.