After Mamata Banerjee’s massive loss in the Lok Sabha elections, in which she was reduced to 22 seats from her previous 34 in the state of West Bengal, the inevitable state elections have got her all riled up. In order to counter BJP’s growing popularity in the state, Mamata Banerjee had sought the services of supposed ‘electoral wizard’ Prashant Kishor. Kishor had previously been a professional poll strategist but had ended that when he joined the JD(U) as the party’s vice president. In light of this association, the Bihar CM and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar has distanced himself from Prashant Kishor.
Prashant Kishor had recently worked with Jagan Mohan Reddy for the 2019 Andhra Pradesh elections, which was supposed to be his last assignment. However, Kishor had gone back from his word as he had confirmed to Firstpost that he will be working for Mamata Banerjee for the 2021 Assembly elections.
Not just a matter of going back on his word, this was extremely problematic as Kishor is currently the vice president of JD(U), essentially the 2nd in command in the party. JD(U) is an ally of the BJP, whose support Nitish Kumar needs to continue being the CM of Bihar. Even in the Lok Sabha elections, JD(U), along with LJP was a part of the NDA and the three had devised a seat sharing in Bihar to emerge victorious with 39 seats. This affiliation with Mamata Banerjee was going to be a direct conflict of interest as BJP is going to be TMC’s main opposition in the West Bengal Vidhan Sabha elections.
In light of this, JD(U) has chosen to completely distance itself from Kishor’s act and has proclaimed that the party has got nothing to do with it. Nitish Kumar stated, “Kishor’s activities in West Bengal are not in his capacity as a JD(U) leader.” He further continued, “We have nothing to do with his activities in West Bengal. We do not even know what type of services his company will be providing in the neighbouring state. These are matters on which Kishor himself can shed some light. He will be here on Sunday when the party’s national executive will meet. We hope he will come up with an explanation that answers all the questions.”
On how this might affect the alliance with BJP, Kumar stated, “I have seen no objections from the BJP on this matter. And even if the BJP has any problem, it is not going to be with our party as Kishor’s activities in West Bengal are not in his capacity as a JD(U) leader.”
Kishor’s act has perhaps not gone down well with the party president. Now, it remains to be seen whether disciplinary action will be taken against Prashant for this misadventure if indeed he went rogue.
The decision on Nitish Kumar’s part to completely distance himself from Kishor’s antics had been a smart move. The political mood of the electorate is completely focused on BJP now, as is evident from their thumping majority of 303 seats in the Lok Sabha this time. In West Bengal, the saffron party has increased its seats by 9-fold, from 2 seats to 18, a mere 4 seats less than the ruling TMC. After this stupendous performance, the BJP leaders are claiming that their next target is to overthrow the TMC from the power in the 2021 state polls. This target seems well within their reach as the BJP’s support is increasing day by day in the state, with TMC leaders defecting to BJP and the citizens expressing an urge to break free the shackles of TMC’s oppression.
With Prashant Kishor agreeing to handle Mamata Banerjee’s election, he might as well bid his “electoral wizard” reputation goodbye. Nitish Kumar on the other hand, by choosing the alliance with BJP over Kishor has secured his standing in the time to come.