Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar on Tuesday appointed Prashant Kishor as party vice-president, a month after the poll strategist joined the regional outfit. The appointment effectively makes Kishor number two in the JD(U), ahead of organisational general secretary R C P Singh and national secretary general K C Tyagi.
Announcing the appointment in New Delhi, Tyagi said that Kishor’s “expertise and experience would take the party to new heights”, and help the JD(U) reach out to social segments other than the traditional (OBC) support base. Asked whether Kishor was now number two in the party, he said: “National vice-president is surely a very important position. It is up to the media to interpret it, but every position is important and everyone plays a role in the success of the party.”
Kishor thanked the JD(U) and its leadership for “giving him the new responsibility and honour”, and tweeted: “…I am committed to Nitish Kumar’s ideology of development with justice.” Explaining the significance of the move, a senior JD(U) leader from Patna said: “Kishor is well-connected. He is well known to prominent politicians, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to AICC president Rahul Gandhi to former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav. No one can deny that he gave a decisive edge to the JD(U)’s campaign in 2015 Assembly elections. If he is made national vice-president, no one should question it.”
The leader said that Kishor’s elevation had made it clear that he would report only to Nitish. “In fact, some of the seniors may have to report to him as he prepares the strategy for 2019 polls. He will play a key role in determining seat-sharing with the BJP. Though it is not clear if he will contest Lok Sabha polls, it may not be a surprise if he does. He can bring the right format to the poll campaign and strategy with innovative ideas…,” he said.
He added that one leader from Karnataka and another from Tamil Nadu had been made national vice-presidents during the tenure of Sharad Yadav as party president, but they were “ceremonial positions” unlike Kishor’s case. The JD(U) never had a vice-president under Nitish’s leadership.
Kishor’s appointment could affect four senior JD(U) leaders. First, Bihar minister and key Nitish aide Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan, who was perceived to be the most influential after the CM. Two, Tyagi, who had the credentials for managing critical party matters in Delhi. Three, bureaucrat-turned-politician Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, JD(U) floor leader in the Rajya Sabha, considered to be Nitish’s eyes and ears. Four, JD(U) general secretary Sanjay Jha, who enjoyed Nitish’s confidence and was known for his proximity to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
A JD(U) leader said that it “did hurt to see someone with no experience in politics parachute to number two position without having faced the rigours of grassroot politics”.