Poll strategist Prashant Kishor Sunday said that he and his team are looking to build a political system that is not about an individual or family or a particular social combination but for the entire society.
Kishor was speaking during the Jan Suraj padyatra that was launched from Bhitiharwa Gandhi Ashram on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary in Bihar’s West Champaran district. The ashram is where Mahatma Gandhi launched his first Satyagraha movement in 1917.
Kishor and his team would cover around 3,500 kilometres – spanning across 38 districts – during the padyatra that would take around one and a half years to complete. He is expected to launch his political party after the padyatra.
“Janbal ke aage koi bal nahi tikta (No force can stand against the power of people)…Jiska bhi haath pakad ke ladayenge, itni mazbooti se ladayenge ki saamnewale ke daant khatte ho jayega (If I can help political parties win, I would ensure that we put up such candidates who can make their opponents bite the dust.)”
Kishor said the idea behind launching the padyatra was to get the society to identify the right people to contest elections.
“After every three days, I will keep aside a day to meet people individually. As soon as I finish the yatra in a panchayat and an assembly constituency, we would have clarity on possible candidates,” said Kishor, adding that he was looking for candidates who would “walk with him rather than behind him”.
Without naming a political party, Kishor said it was time that the public changed its thinking about the role of a politician.
“We have to change the thinking that after a politician is elected, he will rule and later his son. This is not going to work any longer. When you vote, become selfish. One often votes in the name of caste, religion and ideology. Next time, you should vote for one who can assure good education to your children,” said Kishor
Kishor was accompanied by several former bureaucrats including former Bihar Director General of Police RK Mishra and social activists during the programme. Making several stops on his way from the state capital Patna to West Champaran, Kishor received a warm response from the crowd.
He also announced that he would be bearing the expenses of a school named after Mahatma Gandhi’s wife Kasturba Gandhi located in Bhitiharwa. “People like former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad and current CM Nitish Kumar had announced plans to make it a government school but it did not happen. At present, I am not in a position to announce that I would turn it into a government school. But, I would bear all expenses of the school till it becomes a government school,” said Kishor, who travelled around 10 km on the first day of the padyatra.
The padyatra appeared to evoke a good response from the crowd as it drew struggling politicians, social activists and students alike.
An IIT student who was among the audience, said, “There are several students from renowned institutions like the IITs who have left lucrative jobs to work with Prashant Kishor. I was drawn towards Kishor because he has been working on a political alternative that can be free of caste and religion and, can focus on governance. The millennial generation has moved beyond caste.”
Hayaat Ashraf, who had contested unsuccessfully from Kasba Assembly seat in the 2020 polls as a Plurals Party nominee, said, “Kishor has promised the public a political party that does not believe in any political system or caste comniantions like Muslim-Yadav (MY) but a holistic combination. Kishor is already getting popular in our community, particularly those who feel betrayed by the Rashtriya Janata Dal.”
Former Bihar DGP RK Mishra, who sat along with Kishor on the stage, said, “What’s important is the spontaneity of the crowd.”
At the same time there were many among the audience who were unsure about Kishor’s plans. Anil Verma, who had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully from Siwan, said, “I came from Siwan to hear his views. My only question is where he would get funds from?”
Kishor’s team had ensured that the padyatra was live-streamed. The team had rolled out the Jan Suraaj TV channel to broadcast the progress of the padyatra.