The exit from Bihar’s regional party JDU doesn’t mean that election strategist Prashant Kishor has exited Bihar politics.
Patna| It was an unceremonious exit for Prashant Kishor when the JDU chief Nitish Kumar removed him from the party. It was Nitish Kumar who had brought the poll strategist who would mostly do the behind-the-scenes groundwork for political parties during elections, to the forefront.
Not only that, he was made the vice president of the party. But all of the bonhomie ended with Nitish Kumar showing the door to the Prashant Kishor.
However, Kishor’s exit from Bihar’s regional party JDU doesn’t mean that he has exited Bihar politics.
On Tuesday, Kishor addressed a press conference where he cleared his stand on Nitish Kumar, where did the two differ and what are his future plans. In the beginning, he mentioned that Nitish Kumar considered him as a son and he, too, considered him as a father figure. However, this did not stop him from criticizing the Bihar CM. He said that Nitish Kumar told him that his party follows the ideals of Gandhi, JP and Lohia.
Prashant Kishor in a jibe at Nitish said that you cannot preach Gandhi on one hand and stand with those who support Godse on the other. You can’t be on both sides. His apparent reference was regarding BJP which is in alliance with JDU in Bihar. The two parties also recently fought Delhi elections together.
However, JDU lost the two seats it contested to AAP. Interestingly, it was Prashant Kishor who helped Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP in the election campaigning.
Kishor also revealed that he had issues with the positioning of JDU and Nitish Kumar in the NDA alliance. He said Nitish Kumar of 2014 was different than Nitish Kumar of today. He stood up to BJP despite having only 2 MPs and facing defeat.
Kishor said, today with 16 MPs, a leader from Gujarat is telling Nitish to be the leader of the alliance in the state and this according to him is not a good thing.
He also slammed Nitish Kumar over his promise for development. He said that even today Bihar is one of the most impoverished states in the country. He questioned if JDU was in alliance with BJP for development, why wasn’t Bihar developed in the last four years.
In his future plans, he revealed that he will start a campaign called ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ under which he will travel across Bihar for 100 days and create awareness about the misrule of Nitish Govt.
While, Prashant Kishor made it amply clear that he will be taking on his political mentor Nitish Kumar, whether he will contest the elections or not, that was not made clear. However, one cannot miss the similarity between the padayatra that was taken out by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The campaign was handled by Prashant Kishor and his team. Reddy had a resounding victory, overthrowing TDP in both state as well as Lok Sabha elections, reddy later sworn in as CM of Andhra Pradesh.
On those same lines, Prashant Kishor will be starting Baat Bihar ki. While Nitish is a seasoned politician, Kishor mostly stayed behind the curtain and handled the groundwork for various political parties. His firm IPAC has helped PM Modi’s 2014 campaign, Bihar campaign for JDU-RJD-Congress the following year. It worked on Amarinder Singh’s 2017 campaign in Punjab.
Most recently, he worked with YSR Congress in Andhra, Shivsena in Maharashtra, AAP In Delhi. He is currently also working with TMC in West Bengal and DMK in Tamil Nadu.
So, one after another Prashant Kishor has been working with different political parties since 2014. Even when he was a part of JDU, he worked for another political party. One wonders whether it was to understand the pan India political scenario and which way the mood of the people is leaning. It will also be interesting to see whether the new role means Prashant Kishor will be focusing on becoming a full-time politician and whether he would remain poll strategist or not.
This important question apart, a lot of us are trying to make sense of Prashant Kishor’s move of launching an alternative front against CM Nitish Kumar. Now there are various possibilities of what the Padyatra will lead to. One possibility says that he might be AAP’s face in Bihar. During Delhi polls, he came very close to Arvind Kejriwal. AAP, buoyed by the recent victory is planning to spread wings in nearby states. So, there are speculations of PK joining AK in Bihar.
The other possibility is Prashant Kishor galvanizing youth from the region. Apparently, IPAC had initiated a forum ‘Youth in Politics (YIP)’ that has 2,38,054 members from Bihar, according to its official website. The youth support he garners can be later put to use by the political party he chooses to support. It could be RJD…or it could be Kanhaiya Kumar who is emerging as another popular face in Bihar.
With elections nearing, Kanhaiya has shifted his focus to Bihar. Whether he will contest elections or not is not clear at the moment. But Kanhaiya Kumar backed by Prashant Kishor or RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav backed by Prashant Kishor can be a strong political force opposed to Nitish Kumar.
Third and the strongest possibility is Prashant Kishor floating his own political party while eyeing for CM post. From the revelations of PK, it is clear that regionalism and development will be two main planks. Kishor himself will be travelling across Bihar for 100 days.
Why would he take that effort if he just had to work for someone else?
Now the most important anecdote. We talked about the possibilities, now let’s understand the reason behind the move. We, at HW News, have constantly maintained that while in the Lok Sabha elections there was a TINA Factor. We have said it time and again that communalism is not working in elections. Communalism is the capital of the BJP that is depreciating with every state elections but if you observe the trends, people are rejecting BJP only in states where strong alternatives are present.
For instance, Jharkhand. There was a clear face of Hemant Soren against Raghubar Das. Thus people voted in large numbers for JMM. In Delhi, there was a clear face of Arvind Kejriwal. there was a strong and clear alternative. AAP had a landslide victory.
In Maharashtra, there was no clear opposition, but people also rejected the talks of article 370 and triple talaq by BJP top leaders and there was a hung assembly. So when Bihar goes to elections, unless there is a strong and clear alternative to Nitish Kumar, chances are people will still vote for Nitish Kumar. Tejashwi Yadav still doesn’t have the charisma of Lalu Yadav. Whether opposition will accept him as a leader or not that is also a big question. Thus, there is a void, void of opposition. That is why Prashant Kishor is making sure he uses this period before Bihar goes in the poll mood to gain ground for himself.
How people of Bihar receive this effort is what we have to keep an eye on in the coming times. But definitely, Nitish Kumar vs Prashant Kishor will be one interesting electoral battles to watch out for.