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Sushil Modi’s life was a lesson in how to keep the nation first, the party next, and the self last

Sushil Modi’s life was a lesson in how to keep the nation first, the party next, and the self last

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(Guru Prakash)
Very few leaders in contemporary India have enjoyed cross-party support, admiration, and respect. One such senior politician was Sushil Kumar Modi, who came from Bihar, the heart of India. A RSS swayamsevak from his childhood and then an ABVP member, he was a product of the J P Movement. He rose through the ranks after learning what it takes to be a student leader and then joined the BJP to fulfill his role in active politics.

We will forever write and analyse his contribution in making the BJP one of the strongest poles in my state. What was it that made Sushil Modi different? He was incredibly passionate about making a difference to the lives of the people in Bihar and in ensuring that the voice of common Biharis reached the Parliament, the Legislative Assembly, and the Legislative Council. In order to do this, he felt that a strong political organisation for the BJP was a must. His life exemplified his tenacity, resilience, and remarkable desire to strengthen the BJP sangathan in the state. He served as the BJP’s state president, national secretary, and national vice president. In his final speech at the Rajya Sabha when his term came to an end on February 9 this year, he recalled how he remained indebted to the BJP because the party had given him the opportunity to be at four important legislative bodies: The Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha, Bihar’s Legislative Assembly, and the Legislative Council. What was poignant about his speech was that he mentioned how one could never be a lifelong political worker but one could be a lifelong social worker. Thus, he resolved to continue working as a social worker till the last day of his life.

During this speech, he also proposed that the government distribute handouts of the finance minister’s annual Budget speech to all Rajya Sabha MPs as they currently only had access to it on TV. It would help facilitate a better understanding. This was quintessential Sushil Modi. During his tenure on the GST Council, he demonstrated exceptional preparedness and shrewdness in handling misinformation about the GST that earned him widespread recognition. In numerous interactions or interviews on GST, he consistently asserted that the states stand united with the Government of India when it came to the GST. According to him, in the GST Council, states could express their opinions, collaborate on implementation, and find solutions to any issues that came up. In his condolence message on X (formerly Twitter), Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly emphasised the importance of Sushil Modi’s “role in the passage of GST”.

He was always well prepared and used to make detailed notes on issues, but he also wanted to learn from people. He was forthcoming in giving feedback so that we could continuously improve our writing and communication. “Please do not refer to me as Uncle; I feel old,” he told me once during one of our customary chats on the phone on days my opinion pieces were published in this newspaper. Last year, I had penned a tribute to Padma Vibhushan Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International and the driving force behind the toilet revolution in India. Sushil Modi had highlighted specific aspects that I could have included. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined writing a similar tribute to him.

His passion for international relations was equally strong. He led a delegation to Myanmar in 2014 as soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led NDA government came to power for the first time. He talked about how important historic and cultural relations were between India and Myanmar, as well as several innovative solutions to expand India’s Act East policy. He referred to India’s neighbourhood as a “Natural Economic Zone”. In the inaugural speech that he gave, he also said, “Myanmar can get everything else from the world, but for Nirvana, they have got to rely on India (implying a connection with Lord Buddha).”

His conversations, agreements, and disagreements with my father, Sanjay Paswan, will stay with me. Amidst all that I learnt from Sushil Modi, how to keep “the nation first, the party next, and the self last” is the foremost. An overview of his life will encourage party workers like me to resolutely serve the people and the nation’s interests.

The writer is national spokesperson, BJP


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