Mangal for this Modi

Patna, Jan. 17: Political rookie Mangal Pandey is set to replace C.P. Thakur as the Bihar BJP president with the central leadership overruling stiff opposition from a large section which accused Pandey of being "too close" to chief minister Nitish Kumar ' the foremost detractor of Narendra Modi.

Pandey, 44, a Brahmin from north Bihar's Siwan district, was the lone candidate to file the nomination papers.

Sources said the party would formally declare Pandey elected as the state party chief "unopposed" tomorrow.

The decision to elevate Pandey, elected to the state Legislative Council for the first time last year, was not free of drama and ruckus. Irate supporters of Thakur vociferously protested against the decision to replace the veteran leader when central leaders such as Anantha Kumar and Ravi Shankar Prasad reached Patna this morning.

Senior central party leaders were constantly in touch with Thakur, a Rajya Sabha MP. Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi called on Thakur at his residence on Frazer Road, apparently to "assuage" hurt feelings.

Pandey's elevation has sent across three messages. First, it has established the supremacy of Sushil Modi over the Bihar BJP as Pandey is known as a staunch "loyalist" of the deputy CM.

Second, it has also proved the high command's proclivity to have a pro JD(U)-BJP face as the party boss in a state ruled by Nitish. Thakur had often been seen as someone who was willing to lend an ear to the section in favour of Narendra Modi, which threatened to jeopardise the relations between the allies.

Third, Sushil Modi has now got a Brahmin face to counter the Brahmin lobby led by health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a known detractor of the deputy CM. Choubey campaigned in Gujarat in Narendra Modi's favour. On many occasions, he shared the dais with Narendra Modi and was vocal in support of the Gujarat chief minister playing a larger role nationally.

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