BJP may field Sushil Modi against Shatrughan

BJP may field Sushil Modi against Shatrughan

Clash of titans: It’ too early for such decisions, says Bihar deputy chief minister

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi

The Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency seems to be heading for a clash of titans. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), peeved over the rebellious attitude of its sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha, is mulling over a proposal to field senior party leader and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi from the prestigious parliamentary constituency in 2019.

This essentially means that the two senior BJP colleagues, Sushil and Shatrughan, will lock horns in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls as the actor had earlier told DH that “my location (read: constituency) will be the same even if the situation changes.”

Shatrughan, aware of the fact that he may be denied party ticket as the BJP treats him like a ‘persona non grata’, had given hint that he could be the possible candidate for Grand Alliance if the BJP denied him a ticket. Shatrughan’s praise for Rahul Gandhi, Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav lent credence to the theory that he could be the GA nominee from Patna Sahib, from where he had won in 2009 and 2014 with a record margin.

BJP sources say the top leadership is mulling over Sushil’s name essentially due to three reasons: First, there is no such towering leader in the saffron camp who can take Shatrughan head-on from a constituency in his hometown.

Secondly, Sushil became BJP MLA for the first time from Patna Central (now called Kumhrar) in 1990 and then again in 1995 and 2000. This Assembly segment, where Modi still holds sway despite now being an MLC, is part of the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. “If there is anyone who could turn the tables against Bihari Babu, it’s Sushil Modi as he is soft-spoken, accessible, competent and a loyal BJP soldier,” the source told DH here on Sunday.

Thirdly, the source pointed out, Sushil’s seniority and experience could be better utilised at the Centre. “Sushil Modi contested the Lok Sabha poll in 2004 from Bhagalpur and won. But his dream of becoming a Union minister could not fructify as the Vajpayee-led NDA failed to retain power. Eventually, Sushil was made Bihar’s Deputy CM in November 2005 when Nitish unseated Lalu-Rabri after 15 years of misrule,” the source said.

Sushil’s friends, as well as foes, agree that he has proved his mettle as the Bihar finance minister. “Even as Chairman of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers for implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) during the UPA regime, and later as Chairman of GST Group of Ministers for Technology, Sushil has proved his mettle,” the source said.

Sushil has so far personally refrained from commenting on such speculations (of contesting LS poll) by saying, “It’ too early for such decisions”.

Shatrughan, on the other hand, said in a lighter vein: Khamosh!

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