Nitish Kumar’s staunch critic, election strategist and former JD(U) leader Prashant Kishor, today ‘congratulated’ him on his oath ceremony for a fourth straight term with a barbed tweet. “Congratulations to the BJP’s nominated Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his swearing-in ceremony. With a tired and politically belittled leader as CM, Bihar should brace for few more years of lacklustre governance,” the tweet read.
Mr Kishor — the architect of the Chief Minister’s 2015 poll victory as part of the Grand Alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress — had ranged himself among his critics shortly after joining the Janata Dal United, where he was the deputy and a close aide of Nitish Kumar.
But his independent views and criticism of the state government’s performance had paved the path for his expulsion in January.
Since the lockdown started, he had been one of the bitterest critics of the Chief Minister over his handling of the migrant crisis.
Back in March, Mr Kishor had tweeted a video of locked up migrant workers, weeping and begging to be freed.
“One more frightening picture of official efforts to protect people from the coronavirus epidemic – poor migrants who came from various parts of the country after suffering many hardships are subjected to this heart-wrenching arrangement for social distancing and quarantine by Nitish Kumar,” Mr Kishor tweeted on his former political mentor, with the hashtag #NitishMustQuit.
During the second phase of the lockdown in April, he had criticised the Chief Minister over his objection to the movement of about 300 buses from Uttar Pradesh for students stranded in Rajashthan’s Kota.
When the BJP’s inaction against Chirag Paswan had deeply upset the Chief Minister, a section of JD(U) leaders and Mr Kumar’s then deputy Sushil Modi had pitched the idea that the Lok Janshakti Party leader was being backed by the election strategist.
Mr Kishor had firmly denied the allegation.
“First, I have nothing to do with the politics of Bihar in the current assembly elections. Second, my last meeting with Chirag was at Nitish Kumar’s home in his presence,” he had told NDTV.
“It’s a deliberate strategy to fool Nitish Kumar, who must have seen through the BJP game plan,” said Mr Kishor, who had crafted the campaign for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 but fell out with the BJP later over differences with Amit Shah.
“Can the Bihar BJP leaders explain who was holding talks on seat-sharing with Chirag? Wasn’t it Amit Shah and JP Nadda? Isn’t it a fact that Chirag had various sessions with Amit Shah and Nadda before he took his decision,” he added.
After the JD(U)’s disastrous performance in the election, a section of leaders have admitted that the loss of Prashant Kishor has hurt the party.
Slipping from its 2015 score of 71 seats, the JD(U) has won only 43 seats in Bihar, ceding the pole position in the state’s alliance to the BJP.
Had Prashant Kishore been there, the campaign could have been managed more efficiently and successfully, they have admitted in private.