Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi staved off a threat to his position after the BJP high command employed a historic secret ballot for the first time by any political party to expose the bluff of rebel legislators who wanted him to out.
The idea of secret ballot came as surprise to 53 BJP MLAs and 14 MLCs from Bihar when they turned up at the party headquarters to state their views on Modi to senior BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj.
They were asked to write on a piece of paper if they were satisfied with Modi and if not, who should be the next leader. A couple of hours later, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad announced Modi enjoyed the support of a majority of legislators and would continue in office. He did not give details.
Even though major political parties have sworn by inner-party democracy, they have often settled such issues by sending “central observers” to ascertain who enjoyed popularity in the process allowing the central leadership’ view to prevail.
Incidentally, the party had thrown out Uma Bharti three years ago for demanding a secret ballot among the BJP MLAs on her support and, later refusing to accept that Shivraj Singh Chouhan commanded a majority.
BJP leaders admitted a secret ballot could open a pandora’s box as rebels could gather strength in faction-ridden Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand and press for removal of chief ministers.
Modi is said to have got 50-plus votes of the total 67 in Sunday’s secret ballot and others who had intimated by email.