“Move On”: Reprieve For Prashant Kishor In Nitish Kumar’s Words To Media

PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s number two in the party, Prashant Kishor, is about to offer his top-rated poll-winning consultancy to Mamata Banerjee. For Nitish Kumar’s ally BJP, she is the main adversary.
Yet the Chief Minister’s response today to media questions about Prashant Kishor’s contract with “the other side” was: “Please forget the issue and let’s move on.” Two days ago, he had said that Mr Kishor “would explain” and “I just want to make it clear that this thing has no connection with the party.”
Speaking to reporters after his Jan Samvad or public meeting – which he has resumed after a long gap – Nitish Kumar also said it was wrong to link Prashant Kishor anymore with his organistion IPAC (Indian Political Action Committee).
Prashant Kishor, or “PK”, as he is generally known, was involved with the Janata Dal United (JDU) in a personal capacity, Nitish Kumar said. “When he’s in the party, then he is bound to work for the party,” he added.
Asked whether he would hire IPAC like he did for the 2015 Bihar polls, Nitish Kumar replied: “It’s too early to say. We will take a call at an appropriate time.”
Nitish Kumar’s apparent lack of urgency to set the record straight and clear it out with his ally is being chalked up to the lingering resentment over cabinet posts at the centre.
The Chief Minister’s party, in alliance with the BJP, swept Bihar with the Janata Dal United winning only one less than the BJP’s 17. But the BJP, which won 303 seats – way ahead of the majority mark – made it clear that its allies would only get symbolic representation of one cabinet spot. The ruling party’s mandate meant that it was far from dependent on allies for numbers.
An upset Nitish Kumar said his party would not join the central government.
On Sunday, despite being asked to “explain”, Prashant Kishor didn’t seem to be in too much trouble at a party meeting, sitting right next to Nitish Kumar.
Sources said before the national executive started, Nitish Kumar had an hour-long meeting with Prashant Kishor. While details of their discussions are not available, there is speculation that Mr Kishor will be allowed to go ahead with strategizing for Ms Banerjee.
The Bengal Chief Minister, rattled by national election results that show the BJP’s growth in the state at the cost of her own party, had reportedly approached Prashant Kishor last week. Mamata Banerjee faces the big challenge of defending her turf ahead of the Bengal assembly polls in 2021.
In the election, Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress had nosedived from 34 to 22 seats in the state, while the BJP went up from two to 18.
The BJP had reportedly requested Nitish Kumar to arrest Prashant Kishor or keep him “out of Bihar” after the clashes during the Patna university election. But Mr Kumar had taken no action against the master strategist who helped him win in 2015.

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