BJP on Friday named former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi its candidate for the Rajya Sabha by-election seat left vacant due to the death of LJP patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan. Modi’s election to the Upper House is all but certain as the NDA has a majority in the state assembly.
In the House of 243 members, the NDA candidate needs support of 122 MLAs to retain the Rajya Sabha seat — the alliance has 125. The Election Commission of India has said that by-election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat will be held on December 14.
Besides Modi, who was replaced as Deputy Chief Minister in the new Bihar Cabinet, some other names doing the rounds were of BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain and Rituraj Sinha, son of Rajya Sabha member R K Sinha. The name of LJP chief Chirag Paswan’s mother Reena Paswan was also doing the rounds.
Instead of Modi, BJP chose two of its leaders — Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi — as Deputy CMs in the recently formed council of ministers. The elevation of the two leaders was seen as part of the BJP’s power transfer from the older generation of leaders comprising the trio of Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and Prem Kumar — all three were ministers in the previous government — to the younger lot.
Ram Vilas Paswan, whose term was up to April 2, 2024, was given the berth in the Upper House as part of 2019 Lok Sabha seat-sharing arrangement between BJP and LJP, which included six Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha berth. The LJP won all six Lok Sabha seats it contested.
Modi, 68, became an RSS worker and joined active politics only in the mid 1980s. Sushil Modi first became Deputy Chief Minister in 2005, when Nitish came to power, and retained the post since then — except when Jitan Ram Manjhi was Chief Minister between 2014 and 2015, and when the JD(U) was with the RJD in 2015-2017.
Sushil Modi is known to be quite close to Nitish, with the two being together in the JP Movement of the 1970s — a proximity that is seen by many within the BJP as a hindrance to the party’s ambitions in the state.