The Return of Sushil Modi
The former state BJP chief uses the time-tested ploy of targeting Lalu to win back favour
At his news conference on May 12, when Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family for their alleged involvement in shady land deals, it was seen as an acknowledgement by the BJP central leadership of Sushil Modi’s efforts to expose Lalu’s “undisclosed properties”. The evidence Modi had painstakingly collected over the past few months proved very useful for the BJP’s central leadership to discredit the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief, particularly at a time when opposition groups were hoping to use Lalu’s connections across party lines to cobble together a common front.
Not only has Lalu been forced to acknowledge the ownership of the “dubiously acquired properties”, the revelations may have also widened the rift in Bihar’s ruling coalition. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) have distanced themselves in the affair, refusing to defend Lalu on the land deals.
Meanwhile, Modi appears to have won a much-needed ‘second chance’ in a party that had unceremoniously cast him aside post the BJP’s drubbing in the 2015 Bihar assembly polls. Not only was the Rajya Sabha berth he hoped for handed
to his rival Gopal Narayan Singh in May 2016, BJP sources say Modi wasn’t even consulted when Nityanand Rai was picked as the Bihar unit president in December 2016. Rai then went on to sideline many of Modi’s supporters while constituting the new state executive.
Once the undisputed face of the BJP in Bihar, 65-year-old Modi knew he needed to fight back to remain politically relevant. He fell back on a time-tested strategy—targeting Lalu—which had propelled him through the BJP ranks in the 1990s.
Things had already started looking up when the BJP’s Delhi unit asked him to join the campaign for the municipal polls. Modi had clearly come a long way from January, when he was kept out of the Uttar Pradesh assembly campaign while other state
KEPT OUT OF THE UP POLL CAMPAIGN IN JANUARY, MODI WAS GIVEN A ROLE IN THE MUNICIPAL POLLS
leaders—Nand Kishore Yadav, Mangal Pandey and Rai—were roped in.
Modi’s broadside targets Lalu’s sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi (both ministers), his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti, by establishing that their assets multiplied manifold over the years, particularly during his tenure as railway minister. He has also dug up documents to show that RJD leaders like Kanti Singh, Raghunath Jha and Premchand Gupta gifted valuable properties to Lalu’s sons before they were made Union ministers during UPA-I.
Even though Modi’s revelations have rattled Lalu and his kin, the RJD chief is uncertain about seeking legal recourse. For the moment, it seems there’s no stopping Modi in his newly rehabilitated avatar.
LEADING THE CHARGE Sushil Modi (bearded) on a one-day dharna in Patna