Why Prashant Kishor could play the kingmaker in 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Amitabh Srivastava
Amitabh SrivastavaSep 21, 2018 | 14:23

Why Prashant Kishor could play the kingmaker in 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Everything — the timing, the venue, the person — seemed perfectly in place when ace poll strategist Prashant Kishor, the man credited for the electoral successes of Narendra Modi in 2014 and the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance in the 2015 Bihar Assembly election, decided to formally join the JD(U) on Sunday.

The venue selected for the occasion was 1 Aney Marg, the chief minister’s official bungalow in Patna. And it was no one else but chief minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) national president, who gave him the membership receipt, making it clear the poll strategist turned-politician will be placed high in the party’s pecking order. Having called Kishor "the future", Nitish has also indicated he will have a key role to play.


The timing of Kishor joining the JD(U), just a few months before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, is of significance, too. Kishor, affectionately called PK by friends, is expected to play a similar role to the one he played prior to the 2015 Bihar assembly polls. In fact, in 2015, it seemed like a lost battle when Lalu joined hands with Nitish Kumar.

In 2015, Prashant Kishor helped Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav win what seemed like a lost battle at that time. (Photo: PTI)

The BJP juggernaut then threatened to steamroll everything that came its way. On the other hand, establishing a connection between a methodical Nitish and mercurial Lalu was anything but easy. But, Prashant achieved what seemed so difficult then.

He took the entire election campaign to new levels, making the electorate realise why Nitish Kumar was heads and shoulders above the rest.

Now, again with the Lok Sabha polls approaching, PK joining Nitish Kumar’s political team will give JD(U) the much-needed impetus both at political and strategy levels. A public health expert with the experience of having worked for United Nations earlier, Kishor is credited for devising innovating strategies such as "chai pe charcha" and 3D hologram campaign for Narendra Modi and Har Ghar Dastak for Nitish Kumar. Now, for a change, Kishor will be in a team that has both Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar together.


On the eve of 2015 Bihar Assembly polls, the BJP, riding high on its Lok Sabha success, believed that given their inherent contradictions and acrimonious past, Nitish and Lalu would never be able to cobble a working partnership. But taking them by complete surprise, Prashant made the two work out a seamless seat-sharing deal where even the Congress, which held just four seats in the outgoing Assembly, was given 40 constituencies.

In contrast, NDA allies Ram Vilas Paswan of the LJP and Jitan Ram Manjhi of HAM(S) squabbled over seats, while Upendra Kushwaha of the RLSP sulked. It delivered a message of incoherent NDA and the poll result, handing Nitish a massive victory, was a stamp on Prashant’s ability as a successful strategist.

Prashant Kishor's induction will serve as a harbinger to many changes in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. (Photo: PTI)

JD(U) leaders now assume PK’s induction will serve as a harbinger to many changes in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. For instance, Kishor’s presence in JD(U) will give Nitish Kumar’s party the much-needed confidence to match ally BJP’s campaign skills and magnitude. “It can even be a factor during seat negotiations. With PK formally by our side, you can no longer dismiss our ground assessments as hearsay,” said a JD(U) leader.


A few JD(U) leaders also believe PK’s induction will downsize some biggies in Nitish Kumar’s party. Kishor’s earlier innings with JD(U) during the 2015 Assembly election had seen many party stalwarts informally getting downgraded. One of the men who now run such a risk is JD(U) Rajya Sabha member RCP Singh, a virtual number two in the party. There is a general perception that Singh has failed to deliver as JD(U) strategist in the by-elections held this year. Some JD(U) leaders also have differences with him.

A senior JD(U) leader, however, said that RCP will not be out of Nitish Kumar’s favour. Instead, the Bihar CM will take away some of the crucial jobs from him and let Kishor do them. RCP’s problem is that he has failed to finetune or revitalise the party apparatus despite being given enough years and opportunities. Now, it could be Kishor’s brief to rejuvenate the party.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)


Last updated: September 21, 2018 | 14:23
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