JD(U) leaders divided over Prashant Kishor’s elevation as party vice-president

JD(U) leaders divided over Prashant Kishor’s elevation as party vice-president

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau21/10/2018 09:04

New Delhi: The elevation of  poll strategist Prashant Kishor as the vice-president  of  the JD(U) within a month of joining the party led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, seems to have driven a wedge among the ranks and files of the outfit.

“We are not able to understand, why Nitishji took this decision. Prashant Kishor is poll strategist, not a mass leader,” a senior JD(U) leader and a close associate of Kumar told The Nationalist.

Supporting the party’s decision, a general secretary of the party said, “Kishor worked with both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. He knows poll planning well and will be crucial to us for 2019 (Lok Sabha) elections and later assembly elections.”

A Nitish loyalist leader said, “Kishor was the architect of the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) which trounced the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections.”

The Congress, RJD and Kumar's JD(U) had forged the grand alliance in 2015 ahead of the Bihar assembly elections to halt the BJP's juggernaut.

A senior JD(U) leader of and a Cabinet Minister in  the Nitish Kumar government told The Nationalist, “The JD(U), which could win only two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, is bargaining hard with the BJP for a ‘respectable’ share of seats in the next general elections.

“Kishor does not have good equations with BJP president Amit Shah. It was because of Shah, that Kishor was forced to drop BJP’s strategy planning. So it will not easy for Prashant Kishor to get any cooperation from Shah during seat-sharing talks with the BJP.”

However, another Bihar Cabinet Minister described Prashant Kishor an “opportunist”.

“He met Narendra Modi during a visit to Gujarat in 2011  and Modi engaged him to plan his campaign for the 2012 Assembly and later the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kishor also worked for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab Assembly elections, and later with Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh. He has no ideology. He is an ambitious politicians. Nothing more,” the minister said.

A leader from Bihar and a Union Minister in the Modi government said, “After the emergence of Prashant Kishor as a decision-maker and next to Nitish Kumar, the equation between the BJP and the JD(U) is likely to suffer and Kishor will not be of any help to either of the two parties.

“Other JD(U) leaders will not accept his leadership and the party will see emigration of many JD(U) leaders.”

Why Kumar needs Kishor

It is not just personal chemistry that has led to Kishor’s appointment as Nitish Kumar’s deputy in the JD(U). A seasoned politician that Kumar is, he cannot but notice the signs of trouble for him. His projection as a ‘vikas purush’, or development man, of Bihar is fast unravelling.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant recently named Bihar among the states that are keeping India backward, especially on social indicators. Although the JD(U)-BJP government has been tom-toming the double-digit growth figures, the state is making headlines for all the wrong reasons — the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case, law and order issues, corruption and unemployment.

Bihar has been ranked the lowest in the Public Affairs Index, released in July by Bengaluru-based think tank Public Affairs Centre, which ranks states on governance based on official data pertaining to social and economic development.

Kumar needs to repackage himself and Kishor has proven credentials on this front.

Kishor was said to be the brain behind Modi’s ‘chai pe charcha’ outreach, 3D hologram campaign and other innovative strategies to create a larger-than-life image of him in the run up to the 2014 general elections. With his network of friends across the political spectrum, Kishor has the potential to become Nitish Kumar’s key man in the run up to and post-Lok Sabha elections.

Also, Kishor’s equations with non-BJP parties could be equally helpful for Kumar in the event of a fractured mandate in 2019 general elections.

Except for short intervals, Nitish Kumar has managed to be in power — either as a Union Minister or Chief Minister — since 1998. He seems to be banking on Kishor now to ensure it in future too.

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