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Deputy CM follows boss, dodges Modi

Patna, Dec. 28: Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi followed his boss in the National Development Council (NDC) meet on Thursday. Like Nitish Kumar, he too did not acknowledge the presence of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

“It is surprising that while Congress chief ministers and Union ministers made a beeline to congratulate the Gujarat chief minister, the poster-boy of the BJP in Bihar remained seated. The incident has triggered off speculation that Modiji may do a Sanjay Jha, a BJP MLC who later refused a re-nomination and joined the JD(U),” said a BJP MLA.

On Friday, the Bihar deputy chief minister refused to comment on if he had wished Narendra Modi in New Delhi. BJP minister Giriraj Singh also remained mum.

“I am neither the spokesperson of Narendra Modi or Sushil Kumar Modi,” Giriraj retorted, who is a known hardliner in the BJP. He dared to criticise the Bihar chief minister in public on several occasions.

BJP MLA Rameshwar Chaurasia, a known Narendra Modi, loyalist said: “Sushil Kumar Modi should be asked why he did not greet Narendra Modi and did not go to the BJP office to attend the function in honour of the Gujarat chief minister. But I know that the spotlight was on Narendra Modi in the NDC meeting.”

Incidentally, the deputy chief minister ducked the felicitation of Narendra Modi in New Delhi on the grounds that he had to attend the function of the ABVP being held in Patna. “The incident in New Delhi has triggered off speculation that in case Narendra Modi becomes the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, the Bihar deputy chief minister might throw his weight behind the Bihar chief minister.

“Modiji has always sided with Nitish even at the cost of agonising the BJP leaders in Bihar. He said Nitish was a prime minister material and also backed the Bihar chief minister’s statement that the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate should be secular. Due to his support for Nitish Kumar, he knows that he would be at the receiving end if Narendra Modi becomes a prime ministerial candidate,” said another BJP leader, stressing that the Bihar deputy chief minister would find it extremely difficult to split the BJP in the state as he would require more than 60 MLAs.

During the NDA-I regime, there was a clamour for the removal of Sushil Kumar Modi as the leader of the BJP’s legislative party. There was voting among the BJP legislators in Delhi and he survived narrowly. The BJP leaders loyal to the deputy chief minister, however, rubbished the speculation about their leader leaving the BJP if the allies part ways.

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