Bihar: Why did BJP choose Tarkishore Prasad, who once fumbled over prime minister’s name as Dy CM?
There were likes of Giriraj Singh, Nityanand Rai and Mangal Pandey but BJP’s selection of little known Tarkishore Prasad over Sushil Modi for post of deputy chief minister in Bihar, surprised many
BJP’s selection of little known Tarkishore Prasad for the post deputy chief minister in Bihar over Sushil Modi and others like Giriraj Singh, Nityanand Rai and Mangal Pandey has come as a surprise. Power corridors from Delhi to Patna were abuzz with theories throughout Sunday and Monday, and even senior BJP leaders were found scratching their heads about the reason behind his elevation.
Those who understand Bihar politics say it has only one and simple answer: the BJP high command – which invariably means Modi-Shah jodi – wanted a weaker and meeker leader in place of ‘Bihari Modi’.
“The Modi-Shah duo opted for the same formula that they applied in Haryana and Maharashtra a few years back – to weaken the regional satraps and choose a puppet ruler,” said a Patna watcher.
“Manohar Lal Khattar, Vjay Rupani and Devendra Fadnavis – all were selected by the BJP high command, sidelining powerful leaders. The same formula has been applied in Bihar,” he said. “The BJP believes that if elections are won in the name of Modi, why shouldn’t the PM himself nominate the leaders?” he added.
Sushil Modi too was not very different from Prasad in terms of stature in the party, but he has been sidelined. “Sushil Modi was also a weak leader but he has been a known face since the 80s. He does not have much of a political stature, other than boasting of a political lineage derived from the anti-Emergency, socialist movement in Bihar,” said a Delhi-based senior journalist.
A theory is also doing the rounds that Prasad was chosen because he has a massive following in areas bordering West Bengal and that he was selected keeping West Bengal assembly polls in mind. But the ground reality is different.
A senior TV journalist who has followed Prasad’s graph since 2005 said that Prasad is not a mass leader. He doesn’t possess oratory skills and has no claim to fame other than his association with the RSS’ student organization Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (AVBP).
“He was so out of the mainstream that he preferred spending his time in Katihar rather than Patna,” said the journalist.
A video of Prasad is doing the rounds in social media in which he can be seen fumbling during a byte, failing to name India’s PM.
A Vaishya by caste, Prasad won his first election by just 165 votes from Katihar in 2005. Interestingly, he has never lost the Katihar seat since then, not even in 2015, when JD(U), RJD, and Congress fought the Assembly elections together and won the mandate. He has maintained his clutch over the seat for four consecutive terms.
The selection of Renu Devi as the second deputy chief minister was a surprise pick too, but many believe she fits the Modi-Shah agenda better than Prasad. She served as a minister in Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet in the past and comes from the Extremely Backward Caste (EBC) category.
“By appointing an EBC woman as deputy CM, the BJP is trying to snatch both – EBCs and women vote bank – from Nitish Kumar,” said an analyst.