Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) JD(U) Chief Nitish Kumar sent shock waves across the nation in his media briefing on Tuesday, January 29, when he claimed that his party colleague and renowned political strategist Prashant Kishor was inducted in the party upon Amit Shah's request.
In a press gathering outside his office, the Bihar CM attacked IPAC mastermind Kishor with direct statements referring to him about how he can't respond to every tweet someone sends him. Washing his hands off any involvement, he said, 'What do I have to do with any of it? If someone wants to join JDU they can, and they can stay till they want.'
#WATCH Bihar CM on Prashant Kishor:Someone wrote a letter I replied to it,someone is tweeting,let him tweet. What do I've to do with it? One can stay in the party (JD-U) till he wants,he can go if he wants...Do you know how did he join the party?Amit Shah asked me to induct him. pic.twitter.com/wlN4Q2o9uo— ANI (@ANI) January 28, 2020
In an interview with ANI later that day, Prashant Kishor replied to the statement and expressed his disbelief. Claiming that the CM was lying, he derided the party chief for his attempt to tarnish his image in the public sphere
.@NitishKumar what a fall for you to lie about how and why you made me join JDU!! Poor attempt on your part to try and make my colour same as yours!— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) January 28, 2020
And if you are telling the truth who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by @AmitShah?
The relationship between the two has continued to sour over the past month after Nitish Kumar voiced support to the Centre's decision of implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The divide widened after Prashant Kishor came out to be a staunch critic of the Act, as well as JD(U) for showing support to the Bill.
In an interview with a leading news daily, Nitish Kumar pointed out that Prashant Kishor was a political strategist who worked for several parties, implying that he was not a politician. He further rankled the party members when he said 'If he stays it's okay, he goes, that's okay too. I want to make it clear that he has to adopt a basic party structure to be stay.'
The public spat between Nitish Kumar and Kishor is misleading and intended as a way to create a false narrative to have the BJP on board for the upcoming 2020 Bihar elections, in the form of a new alliance. The split can be interpreted as a sign that the BJP-JDU alliance is still intact.
However, going by recent developments in Maharashtra, when Shiv Sena famously called off their alliance with the BJP over disagreements with seat-sharing and formed an unlikely alliance with NCP and INC, the same strategy could be applied here. It would be wise to note that Prashant Kishor's IPAC was instrumental to guide the Sena to eventually form a government in the State in 2019.
Adding to the tensions, senior JD(U) leader Pavan Varma on Jan 21, wrote a letter to party chief about the possibility of an alliance in the upcoming elections amidst 'massive national outrage'
This is the letter I have written to @NitishKumar today asking him how the JD(U) has formed an alliance with the BJP for the Delhi elections, given his own views on the BJP, and the massive national outrage against the divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme. pic.twitter.com/ErSynnuiYm— Pavan K. Varma (@PavanK_Varma) January 21, 2020
The BJP-JDU alliance has been in murky waters since the latter ditched RJD for BJP after 2015 elections. If Nitish Kumar's claim that Amit Shah wanted Kishor inducted into JD(U) is true, then it raises the question of whether he wanted to contain his growing influence and presence in the national political scene.
While Prashant Kishor is a face of Opposition for the BJP, despite being younger and relatively inexperienced, he still has a deceptively large, growing national presence. Confining him to a regional party without pan-India presence will inevitably limit his influence.
Prashant Kishor also enjoys support from various regional parties due to his IPAC endeavours in Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi and Tamil Nadu. However, most of them at present are part of the (United Progressive Alliance) UPA, and this raises another key debate on whether he is creating an alliance across party lines where Congress isn't the main stakeholder.
Does Prashant Kishor want Mamta Banerjee to be the face of PM in 2024 or did he purposely start a fight so that he can eventually leave the party and float his own party? While the eventuality of the Bihar's election alliance can be understood, Prashant Kishor's real agenda remains elusive, and his political ambitions appear to be growing, the real depth of his motive will continue to be debated.