Rise and rise of Prashant Kishor

Poll strategist was appointed JD (U) vice president by party chief Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister and Janta Dal United JD(U) National president Nitish Kumar greets electoral strategist Prashant Kishor after he joined JD(U) during party's state executive meeting at Anne Marg, in Patna, on September 16, 2018. PTI file photo

“Our party president Nitish Kumar has appointed Prashant Kishor as national vice president of the party. We greet him and are confident that his elevation will strengthen the party,” said JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi.

Kishor had shot to fame by drafting the personality-centric campaign strategy of the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which the saffron party won with a massive mandate.

In 2015, he drafted the campaign strategy of the secular grand alliance led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar for the Assembly polls, in which the alliance decimated the BJP. In 2017, his campaign strategy for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh bombed.

Kishor, who has no other experience of direct involvement in politics, is known for his popular coinages like ‘Chai pe charcha’ during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and ‘Bihar mein bahaar hai, Nitishey Kumar hai’ during last Assembly polls in Bihar.

For quite a few months after Nitish junked the secular grand alliance last year and re-joined the NDA bandwagon, there was speculation that Kishor would be back to campaign for the NDA — for Nitish Kumar in Patna and for Modi in the national elections.

Virtual No 2 

With the latest elevation, Kishor is the virtual number 2 in JD(U). How it goes down with senior leaders in the party remains to be seen. Tyagi, however, emphasised that Kishor's appointment would help it reach out to social segments outside of its traditional support.

Kishor in his earlier stint with the BJP had caused much heartburn among its senior leaders. Later, as he was sidelined after Modi’s stupendous victory, he had parted ways with Team Modi.

The JD(U) is counting on the persuasive skills of Kishor at a time when its relations with lead NDA partner BJP are cold and there are few takers for it even in the secular block. The first test of Kishor will be the seat sharing in Lok Sabha elections in which both BJP and JD(U) are vying for a lion's share.

On July 13, JD(U) officially announced that Kishor will work for the party and lead the campaign strategy but there was no clarity on whether Kishor will also work for Team Modi.

On September 16, PK joined the JD(U) in the presence of party national president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had commented soon after “I must say Prashant Kishor is the future”. The remark was widely interpreted by analysts as an indication that Kishor was in for a big role.

Prior to that too,  Prashant had been attending party meetings. On June 3, Nitish Kumar had huddled with Kishor and party general secretaries K C Tyagi and Pavan Varma in Patna. 

No secret

Kishor, who studied at Patna’s Science College and has also worked with a UN agency before turning into a poll strategist, had never kept his political ambitions a secret.

There is a buzz that he might contest from Buxar parliamentary constituency of Bihar in 2019. But that will depend on the JD(U)-BJP equations as the seat is currently represented by senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ashwini Choubey.

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Rise and rise of Prashant Kishor

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