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Kishor, whose collaboration with leaders such as Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal fuelled speculations about his political course in Bihar, made it clear that he was not thinking in terms of floating a new political party.
Poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor on Tuesday mocked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for aligning with the BJP in his quest for power, and said the JD(U) leader cannot be wedded to Gandhian ideals and stand with those who support Godse at the same time.
Addressing a crowded press conference here, the first since his expulsion from the Janata Dal (United), which Kumar heads, Kishor asserted that the chief minister has been a “father figure” to him even before he formally joined the party and so he wished to speak no ill of him.
Kishor, however, acknowledged that he had differences with Kumar over the contradiction in his avowed commitment to the principles of Gandhi and his tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party the poll strategist sought to identify with the Mahatma’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
“Nitish ji has always said that he cannot leave the ideals of Gandhi, JP and Lohia... At the same time, how can he be with the people who support the ideology of Godse? Both cannot go together. If you want to stay with the BJP, I don’t have any problem with it but you cannot be on both sides,” Kishore said.
“There has been a lot of discussion between me and Nitish ji on this. He has his thought process and I have mine.
There have been differences between him and me that the ideologies of Godse and Gandhi cannot stand together. As the leader of the party you have to say which side you are on,” he added.
He also said that unlike the JD(U) rank and file for whom the chief minister’s accomplishments in governance had become the “gold standard”, he had been candid enough to point out that being a better performer than the past RJD governments will not suffice since the state still lagged behind most others in terms of development.
Kishor, whose first claim to fame was his handling of Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial campaign of 2014, seemed to be still smarting under Kumar’s statement that he was inducted into the JD(U) on the recommendation of Amit Shah.
“My association with various political parties as a strategist is well known. I have never kept it a secret. But I had not joined the JD(U) as an agent of some other party. If speaking a lie makes things easier for Nitish Kumar, then I grant this to a man who is like a father figure to me,” he said.
Kishor said that in 2014, when Kumar had fought the Lok Sabha polls alone after having parted ways with the BJP and was drubbed, returning with only two seats, “he was still the pride of Bihar”.
“Compare that with the situation today when a Gujarati leader from another party (an allusion to Shah) has to give the assurance that Kumar will be the NDA leader in the assembly polls as if he was not the leader of the people of the state but a manager of a firm,” Kishor said.
“Bihar cannot bear to see its leader becoming a ‘pichhlaggu’ (piggybacking). Nitish Kumar, who had once famously thwarted Narendra Modi from campaigning for the BJP in Bihar, cut a sorry figure recently when he spoke at rallies in Delhi assembly polls like a mere sidekick while Shah and J P Nadda were running the show,” he lamented.
Kishor also rubbished the contention that a tie-up with the BJP was in the interest of Bihar, a claim Kumar has been making to defend his realignment with the saffron party after a four-year estrangement.