BIHAR .. Kingmaker wants to be king in Bihar; Prashant Kishor might take political plunge

PRASHANT KISHOR … election strategist
NEW DELHI: Political and election strategist Prashant  Kishor is reportedly aiming at a plunge in politics in  his home state of Bihar. Kishor, who was expelled from the Janata Dal United (JDU) by chief minister Nitish Kumar over his anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) stand, is arriving in Patna on Tuesday to make an important announcement about his future plans. Kishor, with an aura of king-maker in politics, was functioning as vice president of the JDU.

The 43-year-old Kishor is heading an outfit by name Indian Political Action Committee, which takes big money from politicians for strategizing their electoral wins. Many of India’s top politicians, unsure of themselves, take the help of strategists to win polls. Kishor had stated a while ago that would like to remain in state politics for the next 10 to 15 years. Trained in Public Health, Kishore had worked for the United Nations for eight years before he returned to India and started work as election strategist. He says he took his lessons in this from the US polls.

Kishor, to start with, aims to break the caste-mould in Bihar politics and win support of the youth, the minorities, the Dalits and educated and forward segments of the population a la the Congress style. His own Brahmin community – long removed from power after the Jagannath Mishra era – and also the forward Kayastha community are widely expected to support his entry into politics. It would, broadly, be a front against the domination of the backward communities in state politics through the arms of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad who is strongly backed by the numerically strong Yadav community, the Janata Dal United of chief minister Nitish Kumar who belongs to the backward Kurmi community, and Lok Janshakti Party of Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

If Kishor can win a few seats, he could bargain and get the backing of either the Congress or the BJP to run a government in the state –ie, if numbers help things that way, a la the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

Pawan K Varma

JDU ex-Rajya Sabha member Pawan K Varma, a former IFS officer who worked was adviser to CM Nitish, is also reportedly planning to join hands with Kishor to change the political landscape in Bihar. Varma too took a stand against the CAA. Political pundits see a strategy at work — of winning over the minorities in Bihar in a possible electoral fight in the next Bihar assembly polls — set against the JDU of Nitish and RJD of Lalu. 

The AAP had enlisted the services of Prashant Kishor in the Delhi assembly polls this time, and the party wrested most of the seats in the 70-member state assembly. The AAP is reportedly willing to make Kishor its leader for Bihar, where elections are due soon. The last assembly polls there were held in 2015. The AAP had fielded candidates for the 2014 LS polls in Bihar, but could not win any seat. The party did not field any candidate in the 2015 assembly polls, though. With chief minister Kejriwal winning power for a new term in Delhi, the AAP is now keen on reaching out to more states and emerging as a national party. 

It is no secret that Kejriwal nurses PM ambitions. His attempt to take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi in 2014 failed miserably.

In recent years, Kishor has been hobnobbing with several political parties and helping them win elections. He was enlisted recently by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for an image makeover for her, though she reigned supreme in the state. What she wanted was an image-build-up for grabbing power at the Centre and becoming PM. She is taking lessons from Kishor on this count. Being a Brahmin, Mamata Banerjee feels she has a natural claim to rule India from the front and end the Modi era.

Prashant Kishor’s help had been taken by YSRC leader Jaganmohan Reddy in the Andhra Pradesh assembly polls last year and it turned out to be a success story. However, Kishor could not succeed in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls wherein he strategized for the Congress party. Kishor’s first engagement in crafting electoral strategy was for Narendra Modi when he fought the 2011 assembly polls in Gujarat, which was a success. He helped Modi and the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls too. However, Modi threw him out after he won the polls. The Chai Pe Chacha was reportedly his contribution to Modi’s attempt to endear people.

Kishor strategized for Nitish Kumar, and brought the JDU and Lalu’s RJD together to fight the last assembly polls in Bihar. This too had turned out to be a success, though the RJD withdrew support to Nitish Kumar at a later stage, and the BJP came to the CM’s aid. IHN-NN


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