Sushil Modi’s Jab At Nitish Amid INDIA, PM Buzz

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'Has High Opinion...': Sushil Modi's Jab At Nitish Kumar Amid INDIA, PM Buzz

Sushil Modi, now a Rajya Sabha MP, was the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar (File).

New Delhi:

Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi on Wednesday ripped into Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and any aspirations he may have about becoming Prime Minister, declaring them over after the INDIA bloc seemed to back Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge for the post, should it win next year’s election.

Mr Modi, once Nitish Kumar’s deputy and right-hand man, told NDTV his former boss had too high an opinion of his leadership and influence, pointing out that even RJD boss Lalu Prasad Yadav – one of Nitish Kumar’s oldest colleagues – had not proposed his name as a potential Prime Minister.

“See… Nitish Kumar has a wrong opinion of himself. His party people go around telling everyone how he should be PM, but INDIA leader didn’t take his name when discussing candidates. Mamata chose Kharge. Lalu Yadav was there, he could have put Nitish Kumar’s name but didn’t,” Mr Modi said.

“He (Nitish Kumar) is finished. He has 44 MLAs (in the Bihar Assembly)… who will want to make someone with so few followers a Prime Minister? He has a mistaken idea that he is a big leader.”

READ | Nitish Kumar, Priyanka Gandhi’s Names Proposed For This Big Challenge

Mr Modi also mocked the Bihar Chief Minister for swapping the BJP for the INDIA bloc in pursuit of his prime ministerial dream. “He wanted to be PM when with BJP but that was never going to happen. So he thought, ‘I can try with INDIA’. But that will not work either,” Sushil Modi told NDTV.

Nitish Kumar was a key BJP ally, and member of the National Democratic Alliance till August last year, when he walked out in dramatic fashion and joined hands with Lalu Yadav’s RJD. That took the BJP by surprise and the saffron party has been fiercely critical of the JDU leader since.

Finally, referring to the controversy last month in the Bihar Assembly – Mr Kumar was criticised for “indecent language” while discussing the role of women’s education in population control – Sushil Modi told NDTV, “He insulted women… nobody will take him seriously anymore.”

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart, Arvind Kejriwal, set off a flurry of speculation Wednesday after naming Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge as INDIA’s PM face.

Mr Kharge declined, calling for focus on winning the election before discussing PM candidates, but the proposal made headlines, particularly after sources said Nitish Kumar left the meeting in a huff.

READ | Kharge As INDIA PM Face? Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal’s Surprise Pitch

Mr Kumar reported clashed with INDIA leaders on several issues, including renaming the bloc as ‘Bharat’. That proposal was nixed by the Congress’ Sonia Gandhi, who said the name could not change with just four months for the election. He also reportedly got angry after the RJD’s Manoj Jha translated his speech from Hindi to Tamil for the benefit of those from Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK.

The result – when Mr Kharge addressed reporters after INDIA’s meet – was that neither Nitish Kumar nor Lalu Yadav were present. The JDU is to meet next week to discuss its Lok Sabha plans and will, now, likely also talk about the fallout of the opposition huddle in Delhi.

The JDU has played down talk that Nitish Kumar is unhappy with the INDIA bloc, which he helped birth, acting as an interlocutor between the Congress and regional parties. Party spokesperson KC Tyagi retorted, “INDIA is our child… we gave birth to it. How can we be angry with it?”

Mr Tyagi, though, underlined the party’s position on the vexed PM face issue. “I want to say very firmly that we will not project any face for 2024 election. This was the decision in the Mumbai meeting and such decisions are not changed in minutes because one person says something.”

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