By Dheeraj Kumar
Patna: Even as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is trying hard to rebuild his image of a leader that his alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, would require to win Bihar in the impending Lok Sabha election, every thing is not hunky dory in his party, the Janata Dal (United).
The much acclaimed poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who was inducted in the party in September last year and was made the party vice president within a month of his joining the party, seems to be a man in a hurry. But his every bid to assert his position within the party is being nixed by none other than Nitish himself, much to the discomfiture of Kishor, who has now chosen to directly attack Nitish. Recently he indeed rubbed Nitish the wrong way by making statement during an interview to a web channel that the JD(U) supremo should have sought fresh mandate after walking out of grand alliance (of JD(U), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress) in 2017.
His statement resulted in angry retorts from Nitish’s loyalists. The JD (U) general secretary R.C.P. Singh on Friday hit hard at Kishor and rubbished his contention on grounds that “It is his personal view”. Without naming Kishor, Singh said that Kishor was not in the JD (U) when the party had left grand alliance and so he might not have been aware of the party`s activities at that point of time. It could be the reason he had made such a statement, he said, adding that the party was unanimous in its decision on quitting grand alliance as the decision was ratified by members of the party`s national executive and state council.
Incidentally Singh, a former bureaucrat turned politician, was considered as number two in the JD (U) till Nitish appointed Kishor as party vice president on October 16 last year. Some political analysts then called Kishor JD (U)`s heir apparent after his appointment, grossly overlooking the caste equations. After all, how could Kishor, being a brahmin, ever become Nitish’s heir apparent in a party whose political constituency is comprised of Backward and Extremely backward castes? Nitish himself belongs to the backward Kurmi caste and so does RCP Singh.
So where could Kishor be fitted into Nitish’s scheme of things? Perhaps he was required only as a poll strategist. But even there, he had switched loyalty quite fast, making poll strategies for rival political parties — the BJP, the JD(U), and the Congress.
Political analysts feel that Nitish is trying to draw a line between himself and Kishor for quite some time now. This was perhaps the reason why he cryptically said that Kishor was Amit Shah’s man in the JD(U) — “He [Kishor] was not a newcomer for us. He had worked with us in the 2015 assembly polls. For a brief period, he was busy elsewhere. Please let it be known that none other than Amit Shah had asked me twice to induct Kishor in the JD(U).”
The question arises that why would Amit Shah ask Nitish to induct Kishor? After all, Kishor, who had made strategies for the BJP victory in 2014, had effectively used the BJP’s secrets that he was then privy to, to help the JD(U)-Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress alliance win the Bihar assembly elections in 2015. Thereafter he was hired by the Congress to handle the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, but he was dumped midway as many state Congress leaders complained that they were finding it difficult to operate with Kishor.
Given Kishor’s ambitions and his track record of the last four and half years, little surprise therefore that now the JD(U) is distancing itself from its vice president, Kishor. Speaking to jagritbihar.com, JD (U) MLC and state party spokesperson Neeraj Kumar accused Kishor of working against the party’s policy by contending that CM Nitish should have sought fresh mandate after walking out of NDA. “PK is a novice in politics,” he remarked. Incidentally like Kishor, even Neeraj is a rare forward caste-face in the JD(U). JD (U) general secretary Shyam Rajak too has been not less harsh in his criticism against Kishor as he said nobody should remain in any confusion as all emerge victorious in elections on their respective strength.
Incidentally, the situation is getting tougher for Kishor as a politician when Lok Sabha poll is round the corner. He seems to have taken his marginalization within the JD(U) to his ego. This was amply reflected when he reportedly sought to project himself as a kingmaker at a function organised by his party’s student wing in Muzaffarpur recently. While exhorting youths to join politics in large numbers, he had then said, “If I can help in making PM and CM, I can also help Bihar’s youth become MP, MLA or Mukhyia…We are a country of 48 crore youth voters. In 1952, 40% of the parliamentarians were of less than 40 years of age. At present, there are only 7.3% parliamentarians who fall in this bracket”.
Moreover, he had also drawn attention when he apologised for none of Bihar Minister or leader remaining present when martyred CRPF inspector Pintu Singh was being cremated in Begusarai district. When chief minister Nitish visited the native Dhyanchakki village of martyred CRPF inspector to pay his tribute after four days, Kishor had tweeted, “…and the follow-up”.
So what could be the political future of this self proclaimed “Chanakya”? Is it sheer frustration or is there any strategy behind his move to target Nitish? All attempts to get reaction of Kishore had thus far turned futile.
(with inputs from Deepak Parvatiyar in New Delhi)