It might not be the first time that Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar took aim at election strategist Prashant Kishor, but it was his sharpest attack on his estranged ex-colleague so far. And it came right ahead of Kishor’s proposed 3,000-km Bihar padyatra that he would kick off from October 2.
Following Nitish’s dramatic move to cut his ties with the BJP and re-embrace the RJD to form a new Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) government last month, Kishor, while refraining from making a frontal attack on the former, took potshots at him by highlighting his political flip-flop-flips.
Kishor had taken to social media, saying Bihar has seen six political “experiments” for government-formation over the last 10 years with Nitish as the “common factor” in all of them. He also took to Twitter to ask the public if Nitish’s latest move to join the Grand Alliance would work. He also sounded his scepticism about Nitish’s claims of working for the unity of the Opposition, given the presence of a large number of stakeholders and many prime ministerial candidates in their ranks.
Nitish’s fierce, bristling retaliation came Wednesday – the concluding day of his Delhi visit during which he met a slew of top Opposition leaders – as he dismissed Kishor’s comments as “meaningless” and “irrelevant”.
“He (Kishor) was with us. I had asked him to leave his political consultancy. But he did not agree,” Nitish said. “Wo apna dhandha kar raha tha (He was doing his business)”, the CM said.
Charging that “Kishor does not know ABC of the work done in Bihar since 2005 (when Nitish took charge as the CM for the first time)”, he said, “Andband bolte rahta hai.. Usko kuchh pata nahi hai ki kitna kaam hua hai (Kishor talks nonsense. He has no idea how much work has been done in Bihar”. The CM also said, “All he (Kishor) can do is make statements for publicity. He is an expert in doing that. And going by it, maybe, he wants to be with the BJP or support it covertly,”
Though Nitish had earlier said that he inducted Kishor into the JD(U) after Union home minister Amit Shah requested him to do so, his latest jibes at Kishor’s alleged hobnobbing with the BJP ahead of his padyatra assumes political significance. It could be part of the JD(U) supremo’s bid to target Kishor’s credibility and undermine his padyatra, which is supposed to be a curtain-raiser to his move to float his own political party in Bihar in near future.
Kishor has so far travelled through a dozen Bihar districts before embarking on his padyatra so that he could better understand the situation on the ground. Although he has not projected any populist model like Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s, he has been talking about the overhaul of health and education systems. His apolitical movement, “Jan Suraj (public good governance)” seems to be in line with his political plans. He has been looking to rope in intellectuals, teachers, social activists, RTI activists and politicians of some credentials for his campaign, which may soon take shape of a political party.
Kishor hit back at Nitish Thursday by posting a four-photo tweet – showing Nitish greeting with folded hands Prime Minister Narendra Modi at various functions during their NDA alliance period – that he deleted moments later.
Later in the day, while addressing a press conference at Bhagalpur, Kishor dared Nitish to fulfil his promise of giving 10 lakh jobs to youths in one year. “He (Nitish) has ruled Bihar for 17 years and could not create 10 lakh jobs. If he is able to give 10 lakh jobs in coming 11 months (one month is lost), I will withdraw my campaign and accept him as my leader and work for him again. Like the omniscient god, he knows A to Z and one does not know even ABC,” he said.
On Nitish’s barb at him for being allegedly hand-in-glove with the saffron party, Kishor said, “Nitish Kumar is a bujurg (senior) leader… Who is working with BJP, who is working with whom, it is either he knows or I know.Till a month ago, it was Nitish Kumar who was with BJP. Now he is in rival camp. If he is giving such certificates to others, it could only be called ludicrous”.
Meanwhile, Nitish said in Gaya that he will visit Delhi again once Congress president Sonia Gandhi returns to the country, to discuss the way forward for the Opposition unity. On the Opposition camp’s PM face, he said they would sit together to decide it, reiterating that he was not in this race. The CM was talking to reporters after opening a rubber dam in Falgu river to ensure round-the-year availability of water for those who come to offer pind daan to their ancestors.