On a day Nitish Kumar took oath as Bihar Chief Minister for a record eighth time, election strategist Prashant Kishor took a swipe at his former party leader and said the current political developments in Bihar should not surprise anyone, as this is the “sixth experiment” by Nitish in government formation since 2012. The only constants in this period have been Nitish as CM and Bihar doing poorly on most development indices, he said.
Kishor, who is likely to enter the electoral fray in 2025 through his outfit, Jan Suraj, called it a “state-specific development” and said not much should be read into it with 2024 General Election in mind.
Since 2012-13, Kishor told The Indian Express, the “only constant has been Nitish Kumar as CM and the poor state of healthcare and education in the state, which has only gone worse since 2014-15. We must wait and watch how this government performs, and how the coalition endures.”
“At the moment, this is a state-specific development for governance and not a political development for the future. It would be premature to project it as the Opposition’s formula for 2024,” the former JD(U) top leader said.
Kishor said he does not believe that the atmosphere of political uncertainty in Bihar has ended with the Grand Alliance returning to power.
On why Nitish broke the alliance with BJP, and whether the latter overplayed its hand in cornering him, Kishor said, “Nitish-ji was never comfortable in this NDA coalition as he was in the NDA coalition before 2015. Similarly, he is not as comfortable today in the Mahagathbandhan as he was in his last alliance with RJD. The 2015 alliance had people’s mandate behind it. This is a post-poll alliance. So there are additional challenges that this alliance will face.”
On Nitish being projected as the Opposition’s face for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Kishor said, “He had made that attempt in 2014 also, and had got some support. But it is one thing to have intent, and another to convert that into reality.”
Playing down speculation over the Opposition’s strength based on Nitish and Lalu being a formidable social coalition, Kishor said: “Whenever a coalition is formed, it looks formidable at the time. When BJP and JD(U) joined hands in 2017 it was said it was the natural coalition for Bihar. See how it has ended. Once a coalition is formed, and the government begins functioning, only then its challenges and problems or strengths emerge.”
Kishor said these developments should not be read as weakening of BJP in Bihar, and that the saffron party remains a formidable force.
Pointing out that JD(U)’s fortunes have slid consistently in the last few years — from 117 Assembly seats in 2015 to 43 now — Kishor said they will decline further if the Grand Alliance government fails to deliver on governance.
On his own poll plans, Kishor said he is for now focused on the padyatra across the state and will take a decision afterward. Asked whether Jan Suraj will be a political party in 2025, when Bihar is scheduled to go to the polls, he said, “It could be. (But) 2025 is still far away; it is possible it will happen sooner.”