Poll strategist Prashant Kishor has officially taken the plunge. He has joined the Janata Dal United, the ruling party in Bihar. His plunge into Bihar politics has obviously led to speculation and theories, regarding both the timing of it all and the possible reasons behind such a move.
Why Nitish Kumar would want to induct him into the party is also a valid question, mostly because what would Prashant Kishor do — will he join the government? He is, after all, a political strategist, who has to his credit delivering election victories for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Thus, Kishor continuing with the same work for the party is as clear as the noonday sun.
He's taken the plunge: Prashant Kishor is now formally part of Nitish Kumar's party. (Photo: PTI)
But what else can he do?
There are a few theories afloat:
1. Helping split seats
Since the JD(U)’s return to the NDA fold in July 2017, the party has been insisting on being granted senior partner status in Bihar. This, of course, has been a problem for the BJP and the other parties in the alliance. According to reports, Kishor is working on reaching a respectable split of the 40 seats available in Bihar, for the partners — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the JD(U), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) — who are each vying for bigger shares.
Kishor is also likely to use his proximity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah in resolving this contentious issue.
2. Contesting from Buxar
The buzz around the block is that Prashant Kishor may contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Buxar. While Kishor comes from the Konar village of Rohtas district, his father later shifted to Buxar — Kishor completed his schooling there. The Buxar seat is currently represented by Union Minister Ashwini Choubey of the BJP. Like Ashwani Choubey, Kishor, too, belongs to the Brahmin community, which has a substantial population in the constituency, which makes it a safe seat for Brahmin leaders.
3. Countering RCP Singh
An unnamed leader of the JD(U) has been quoted by The Telegraph saying, "Prashant Kishor has been inducted in the party to downsize RCP Singh who has so far been taking care of the party's functioning after Nitish Ji," adding that, "Nitish Ji has got the feedback that party workers are unhappy with RCP. Many JD(U) leaders are also upset with RCP, and his differences with parliamentary affairs minister Shravan Kumar are already in the public domain."
A former IAS officer, RCP is considered the most powerful leader in the party after Nitish Kumar.
4. Countering Tejaswi Yadav
Former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, and Lalu Yadav's son, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD is giving the Bihar Chief Minister a tough time. The JD(U)’s clear lack of young, popular leaders — especially of Tejaswi's stature — might have forced Nitish Kumar to bring Kishor into the fray.
5. A bridge between Nitish and Lalu
Kishor is known to be on good terms not just with RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, but with the Gandhi family as well. Should the Bihar CM plan on shifting alliances again — he has a history of doing so — a man like Kishor is likely to be part of his contingency plan to mend ties.
Slugfest, then Hugfest: Who but Kishor will help, should Lalu and Nitish decide to hug it out again? (Photo: PTI)
6. Heading an important ministry
Nitish Kumar reportedly said at the JD(U)'s state executive meeting that the state cabinet would be expanded after Dussehra. It is speculated that the political strategist may be entrusted with a key portfolio in this reshuffle.
7. Attracting upper caste votes
Although the upper castes are largely sympathetic towards Nitish Kumar, they have never been part of his core voter base. After all, Kumar, who is an OBC, has led the JD(U) with the image of a non-Yadav OBC party. With a young and credible Brahmin face like Prashant Kishor, however, Kumar may just be attempting to break into the upper caste vote banks.
Kishor’s presence in the mix is likely to help with upper caste perceptions.
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