Who is in the cross hair of political strategist Prashant Kishor? Days after political commentator Sankarshan Thakur hinted, in a report in The Telegraph, that Kishor’s next mission would be in Bihar, the man himself announced that he would be launching a movement ‘Baat Bihar Ki’ ( La’ffaire Bihar or Talk of Bihar) this week to connect with 10 million youth.
This was possibly the first press conference addressed by Kishor. The political strategist has been a quintessential backroom boy so far, meeting journalists in small groups or one-to-one and speaking mostly off the record. But having assisted PM Modi’s campaign in 2013-14, Nitish Kumar in 2015, Mamata Banerjee in 2018 and Aam Aadmi Party in 2019, does he now see a more direct political role for himself ?
He clearly senses a political vacuum in the state. With Lalu Prasad Yadav (and his wife) and Nitish Kumar, after holding the office of the chief minister for 30 years between them, perceptibly on the decline, the state is rife for a new leader, a new party or a new alliance.
None of the political parties in the state can boast of a natural leader. Tejashwi Yadav has been let down by both circumstances and his family members. By ensuring political berths for both his sons and the eldest daughter, Lalu Prasad may have secured his family’s interests but did a grave injustice to his younger son, who could have been his inheritor. But he has disappointed many of his admirers and though RJD spokesmen insist he would lead the RJD-Congress alliance with smaller parties, Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Manjhi are clearly lukewarm.
Is Prashant Kishor preparing the ground in Bihar for AAP or a new outfit? Or is he eventually going to help Nitish Kumar forge a new alliance in the state ? There are no answers yet though it is known that he is on good terms with leaders across the spectrum. But having categorically aligned himself with Gandhi, and not Godse, he has tried to send a message that he no longer can build bridges with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Kishor, who claimed to have immense respect for Nitish Kumar, was unsparing in his criticism of the JD(U) government in the state, which would have sounded like music to the ears of Tejashwi Yadav, who is embarking on a ‘Berozgari Yatra’.
Kishor appears to have hit a sympathetic chord when he said that despite some development, Bihar is yet to fulfil its potential. Endowed with fertile soil, rivers and talented, hard-working people, Bihar still is a laggard in terms of electricity consumption, income or education.
Kishor claimed he had the support of 2.93 lakh youths––one-third of them active workers of the BJP––in his campaign to change Bihar. Though he dismissed speculation that he wanted to float a new party and had political ambition, yet his decision to work among the youths of Bihar has come just ahead of Tejashwi Yadav’s Yatra, observers have noted with interest. Both seem to be trying to harness the growing disenchantment among the youth.
Nitish Kumar does claim to have developed Bihar and he reacts sharply to anyone who questions it. Yet PK, with the help of official data, wondered why the benchmark is always the period when Lalu Prasad was at the helm of the state.
He was brutal in saying that he knew Bihar could not figure at the top of the list of developed states. But surely it can try to figure in the top 10, he exclaimed. How much would it have hurt Nitish Kumar? Nobody knows yet.
Could his defiant act wittingly or unwittingly benefit RJD and Tejashwi Yadav ? The next few months would hopefully clear the air.