A day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that Prashant Kishor had once asked him to merge his Janata Dal (United) with the Congress party and that the poll strategist was now working for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kishor hit back Sunday, charging that Nitish was “getting delusional” with age as well as “politically isolated and nervous” in the company of his “untrustworthy” associates.
During his visit to socialist icon Jayaprakash Narayan’s village, Sitab Diara in Saran district, on his death anniversary Saturday, Nitish had told reporters: “I don’t understand why he (Prashant) has been making so many statements (against me). Let him say what he wants to say. He had once made me an offer about the JD(U)’s merger with Congress. He used to stay in my house. Now, he has been working for BJP”.
Age showing its effect on Nitishji, he wants to say something but he speaks something else.If I was working on BJP agenda why would I speak of strengthening the Congress? He is getting delusional & politically isolated. He’s surrounded by those whom he can’t trust:Prashant Kishor pic.twitter.com/whRb4fwewu
— ANI (@ANI) October 9, 2022
With the war of words continuing to rage between the CM and Kishor, the curious equation between them seems to be getting curioser. Kishor had joined the JD(U) in 2018 and was even elevated to its national vice president post, but was expelled from the party in early 2020 after he fell out with Nitish.
Speaking to The Indian Express, JD (U) national spokesperson KC Tyagi said: “I fully endorse what the Bihar CM said on (Kishor’s) merger offer. It was sometime between 2016 and 2017 (before the JD(U) rejoined the NDA). Prashant told me that there was an offer from Congress that if JD (U) merges with it, Rahul Gandhi would be AICC president and Nitish Kumar could be made its campaign committee chairperson (for the 2019 general elections). There was also an offer to make me Congress national general secretary and Pavan Varma one of its spokespersons. I said if Nitish Kumar agreed, I had no issue”.
On the fate of this purported offer from Kishor, Tyagi said: “Nitish Kumar never discussed it with me. Nor was there any follow-up from Prashant. It is quite possible that Prashant could not take the matter further”.
Before Nitish had returned to the NDA in July 2017, he had made repeated attempts for his acceptability as an important leader who could work for the Opposition unity. He had tried to make a pitch for liquor prohibition, which he imposed in Bihar in April 2016, at the national level. He had also held meetings with several Gandhians in UP and Maharashtra. However, the Congress or any other Opposition party did not respond to his overtures.
The attempts of unification of all Janata Parivar parties through the merger of the JD (U), RJD, JD (S), SP and INLD had then also failed. Before returning to the NDA, Nitish had taken another shot at his national ambition by meeting Rahul Gandhi, but it did not result in any breakthrough that led to his declaration then that he had got the “mandate to serve Bihar”.
The Congress camp was believed to have been wary of “ambitious” Nitish. A Congress source in Patna said: “Prashant’s idea did not work because Congress would have thought that giving any top position to Nitish would only damage the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.”
On his part, Kishor, who has been on his “Jan Suraaj” yatra across Bihar, chose to give a political response to Nitish Sunday, saying “Nitish Kumar has been saying that I am working for BJP while also talking about my offer to merge JD(U) with Congress. Either of these two things could be true. I can either try to strengthen Congress or work for BJP. I think age is showing upon Nitish Kumar. He has been getting delusional.”
While Nitish has claimed that Kishor had recently met him with Pavan Varma “on his own” and that he had not “wished” to meet the poll strategist, sources close to Kishor claimed: “It is Nitish Kumar who had desired to meet Kishor, which Varma had communicated to him. Kishor, who treats Varma as his elder brother, decided to meet the CM. During the meeting, the CM offered Prashant to work for him again. It could have been either rejoining JD (U) or working as a poll strategist again.”
While claiming that Nitish recently urged him to work with him, Kishor said last Friday that “even if Nitish would make him his successor, he would not work for the CM ever again”.
Meanwhile, former JD(U) MP Pavan Varma, whom Kishor accompanied to meet the CM, told The Indian Express: “Nitish Kumar would have been happy if Prashant worked for him again. After all, they had worked together before.”