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Once Nitish Kumar’s Heir Apparent, How Prashant Kishor Had a Fall From Grace in JD(U)

Political circles here are agog with speculation that Kishor might align with a rival party in Bihar after his current assignment with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi assembly polls.

Ashok Mishra |

Updated:January 29, 2020, 12:13 PM IST
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Once Nitish Kumar’s Heir Apparent, How Prashant Kishor Had a Fall From Grace in JD(U)
File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar with JD(U) leader Prashant Kishor.

Patna: The axe is likely to fall on election strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been told by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to leave the Janata Dal (U) and go wherever he wants. It has also been decided not to include Prashant Kishor into the new working committee of the party, which is likely to be constituted before the next assembly elections in Bihar.

“It amounts to gross indiscipline and a message needs to be sent across to maintain discipline and order in the party,” said former MP and national spokesperson KC Tyagi.

Since the re-election of Kumar as the party president for the second term in October last year, the working committee of the party stands dissolved technically and Kishor, who was party vice-president, seizes to hold any post like other national office-bearers.

Political circles here are agog with speculation that Kishor might align with a rival party in Bihar after his current assignment with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi assembly polls.

When contacted, the state Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Jagadanand Singh dispelled such rumours saying that Kishor was basically a BJP man and he might be working to drive a wedge into the opposition unity.

Kumar’s angry outburst against his one-time favourite have not come suddenly. It all began over a year ago when talks of Kishor projecting himself to be the successor of Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar started gaining ground within the rank and file of the party.

It was not without reason as he was inducted as a full-fledged member of the party with a lot of fanfare in September 2018 and elevated to the Number 2 position as national vice-president triggering speculation that he was being thought of by Kumar as his political heir.

The successive developments added credence to such feeling within the JD(U) as the election strategist was assigned the task of roping in youth without any political background into the party fold and train them into committed party cadres and future leaders.

As the ‘PK ki class’ began almost on a day-to-day basis, he started calling the shots much to the discomfiture of the party veterans including Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Ramchandra Prasad Singh alias RCP, state president Bashishtha Narayan Singh and the likes.

It continued till adverse feedbacks about ‘PK running the show’ in the party started reaching Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. The adverse reaction among the disenchanted second-rung party leaders was so infuriating to Kumar that he indignantly told a news channel in January 2019 not to talk in terms of Prashant Kishor being his successor.

“Let us not talk in terms of successors. This is not monarchy,” he had said and went on to reveal for the first time that he had twice received suggestions for inducting Prashant Kishor into the JD(U) from the then BJP national president Amit Shah.

The message for Kishor from his political mentor was loud and clear, indicating that he should remain limited to his brief and focus on the work assigned to him instead of creating confusion in the party’s rank and file about his ‘exalted’ position.

During electioneering for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, despite being the party vice-president, Kishor was not given any responsibility for campaigning which has been his forte ever since he successfully handled the campaign for Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister and later at the national level in 2014.

What upset Kishor most was the fact that the Bihar chief minister refused to take his side in his tussle with the senior party leaders. A seemingly jilted Kishor had then sarcastically tweeted that the responsibility for electioneering and management by the JD(U) was on the ‘strong shoulders’ of senior party leaders like RCP Singh, hinting at his dissatisfaction with his limited role.

Kishor had also ruffled some feathers within the party when he said in an interview that he did not concur with the party chief Nitish Kumar’s method of exit from the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) and realigning with the BJP and ideally he should have sought a fresh mandate.

As his differences with the senior JD(U) leaders grew, Kishor rankled the BJP recently with his severe criticism of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR), National Register for Citizens (NRC) and sharing of seats in the upcoming Delhi assembly elections.

He made a frontal attack on BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, saying that the latter became deputy chief minister by creating ‘circumstances’ despite his party’s loss in the 2015 assembly polls.

One of the main reasons for Nitish Kumar’s disenchantment with Kishor is the latter’s engagement as strategist for different political parties. At present, Kishor is working for AAP in the Delhi assembly elections, where the JD(U) is contesting polls in alliance with the BJP as part of the NDA.

Kishor is already working for Trinamool Congress and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and successfully launched an outreach programme called “Didi ko bolo’ against the BJP. He is also in talks with DMK leader MK Stalin for the Tamil Nadu assembly elections slated for 2021.

He had worked with Shiv Sena during the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra and groomed party’s youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray. He is credited with Aditya’s 4000-km Jan Ashirwad Yatra across the state as an outreach campaign.

Through his Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), Kishor has served two major political parties –BJP and Congress in the past. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he was credited with creating several campaign strategies for Narendra Modi, including ‘Chai pe charcha’, ‘Manthan’ and other social media interventions.

Congress, too, sought his services in 2016 to craft a winning strategy in Punjab to help Captain Amarinder Singh in the Punjab assembly polls. His stint with the Congress, however, backfired when he failed to influence the voters in Uttar Pradesh elections, where the BJP won with a thumping majority.

As his fate in the JD(U) hangs in balance, JD(U) leaders have contended that there was no contribution of Kishor in the victory of the JD(U)-RJD alliance in the 2015 assembly elections. “It was the good work of Nitish Kumar that paid rich dividends and revived the RJD. Kishor keeps on tweeting and he will fly like a chirping bird from one branch to other in future also,” said party’s state unit spokesman Neiraj Kumar.

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