Bihar: Prashant Kishor’s entry sets senior JD(U) leaders on edge

Nitish Kumar embraced Prashant Kishor to lift the morale of the JD(U) rank and file. However, this move may be backfiring already. Days after Kishor’s initiation, churning has surfaced in the party

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Arun Srivastava/IPA

Nitish Kumar has finally succeeded in getting his second in-command. Induction of his former electoral strategist Prashant Kishor into the Janata Dal (United) was initially presumed as a move by Nitish to work out a blue-print of working policy and also to evolve a mechanism for seat-sharing for the next Lok Sabha elections among the National Democratic Alliance partners in Bihar.

Kishore was inducted into the party at the it’s recent state executive meeting at the chief minister’s residence in Patna. Nitish presented him with an “angavastram”. After his joining the JD(U) Nitish had remarked “Prashant is the future”.

No doubt being officially projected as the only person next to Nitish carried much importance. Leaving aside the tradition style of welcoming a new face, Nitish embraced Prashant Kishor before the political establishment and eulogised his performance. This unusual introductory move made it explicit that Nitish had brought in Kishor for some significant game plan, beyond election planning.

The primary reason for Nitish inducting Kishor, which the CM’s minions confide, has been to show his old political friends and aides their place. Of late, Nitish was feeling worried and disgusted at the behaviour of some of his trusted colleagues. Since a sense of skepticism prevailed in the party over its future and survival, these leaders have become quite active in securing their future. This was disquieting for Nitish.

The political scenario facing Nitish, amid constant bullying by big brother BJP, has worsened due to the abrupt and abnormal rise in crime in Bihar. The police administration has virtually capitulated before the criminals. The morale of the party has further deepened with no senior leader from any other parties showing keenness to join JD(U). In this backdrop, the only way left for Nitish to crank up the morale of the rank and file, was to induct Kishor as his second-in-command.

However, this move may have had the opposite effect. Barely four days after Kishor’s initiation, churning has surfaced in the party. Some of Nitish’s senior confidants, who till recently ruled the roost in the party, have been feeling slighted.

The primary reason for Nitish inducting Kishor, which the CM’s minions confide, has been to show his old political friends and aides their place

RCP Singh has been looking after the financial health of the party rather than meeting the leaders and listening to their grievances. For quite some time, a section of leaders have been voicing their grievances and demanding his removal. Sources confide that to "unburden RCP of his responsibilities”, Nitish brought in Kishor. RCP, a former IAS officer, preferred close working relations with his bureaucrat friends rather than interacting with the politicians of his party.

Party leaders in fact claim that RCP has failed to emerge as a leader in his own right. It now transpires that it was RCP who was mainly responsible for straining of relations between Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish. RCP’s bias against Ram Vilas Paswan is reportedly also responsible for the latter’s not joining hands with the JD(U) during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Paswan had at the time shown interest in aligning with the JD(U).

In future, Kishor would be the key person to negotiate the allocations of seats, in a test of his political acumen. Though at the recent executive meet Nitish told his party delegates that the JD(U) is close to finalising an “honourable” seat-sharing with BJP, sources confide that the BJP is not willing to concede to his demands.

At a time when the survival of Nitish is at stake, Kishor will have to enact the role of Lord Krishna, the driver of the chariot.

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