Election Strategist Prashant Kishor has been in Patna for two days and his anticipated meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his one-time political boss, has not materialised so far.
Prashant Kishor’s reluctance to meet Nitish Kumar, who brought him into politics as his number two in the Janata Dal United, has raised questions, especially when he seems to be miles away from announcing any political outfit of his own.
Yesterday, in a cryptic tweet that left many guessing, Prashant Kishor, or PK, declared that he would “go to the Real Masters, the people” to understand the path to good governance, and that he would start with Bihar.
My quest to be a meaningful participant in democracy & help shape pro-people policy led to a 10yr rollercoaster ride!
As I turn the page, time to go to the Real Masters, THE PEOPLE,to better understand the issues & the path to “जन सुराज”-Peoples Good Governance
शुरुआत #बिहार से
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) May 2, 2022
The post, days after PK’s talks with the Congress collapsed for the second time, left his plans wide open to speculation.
A section of the media reported that PK and Nitish Kumar tentatively planned to meet on Sunday. A large media contingent waited for the meeting.
The Chief Minister reportedly waited too, but on learning that PK was unlikely to show up, he went on a surprise inspection of roads in Patna. State minister Nitin Naveen and other officials were called at short notice and the inspection of roads and bridges in and around Patna went on for three hours.
Sources known to both say PK avoided the meeting as in the past, Nitish Kumar had “breached his trust” by making even a private visit official and using the meeting to bargain with the BJP.
Sources say in 2018, during a rough patch between Nitish Kumar and the BJP, when Prashant Kishor went as Nitish Kumar’s emissary to RJD leader Lalu Yadav, the Chief Minister simply backtracked after the BJP leadership’s assurance that he would stay in charge.
PK was particularly upset when, after the Patna University Students Union election in which the Janata Dal United students’ group won the post of president (at the cost of the BJP), he found himself marginalized. Nitish Kumar, clearly under pressure from the BJP, stripped PK of his responsibilities and ensured that in the 2019 election, he remained sidelined.
The disagreement over the Centre’s Citizenship Amendment Act, backed by Nitish Kumar, became the trigger for their split.
Prashant Kishor also felt betrayed, say sources close to him, when the Patna Police, which reports to the Nitish Kumar government, worked overtime to probe a charge of plagiarism against him in 2020.
They resumed contact after the Covid pandemic broke out. But PK remains cautious about any meeting with Nitish Kumar at a time the Chief Minister’s ties with the BJP are strained again and his job is in question. Nitish Kumar once again wants a clear and public assurance from the BJP, and a meeting with Prashant Kishor – key figure in the opposition’s preps to mount a challenge to the BJP in the 2024 national election – could well drive the message home.