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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Nitish Kumar, Sushil Modi turn friends to foes

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 20, 2013
First Published: 01:37 IST(20/6/2013) | Last Updated: 08:22 IST(20/6/2013)

Once thick friends and now rivals, the end of the Janata Dal United ties with the BJP has also changed their personal equations.

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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his former deputy Sushil Modi have had to speak out against each, perhaps much to their reluctance.

Before he won his trust vote, Nitish minced no words while attacking his deputy for projecting his arch rival, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as an OBC leader, and also for turning down his last-minute invite for a discussion to save the alliance before they actually parted ways.

Modi, who served as his no. 2 and finance minister, hit back, saying that he was now sitting on the Congress’ lap, forgetting his socialist icons like Ram Manohar Lohia and Karpoori Thakur Ram who were against the Congress.

Till their political divorce, Sushil Modi was seen by many BJP leaders as a “slave” of Nitish. In fact, in June 2008,  a revolt against him by BJP MLAs became so serious that a ‘secret ballot’ was held to assess his support.

Modi won and stayed on and Nitish was very happy.

In 2010, Modi backed Nitish’s call to keep Gujarat CM out of Bihar. It was his slogan, “Ab ki baar naya Bihar — Nitish Kumar, Nitish Kumar,” that caught on.

Now, with Nitish dumping BJP, Modi is back on top of BJP’s internal popularity chart.

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