“Why Is Bihar…?” Prashant Kishor’s Tough Questions For Nitish Kumar

Patna: Poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor today redirected his attention to Bihar politics with a brand new outreach and aimed a series of uncomfortable questions at former mentor Nitish Kumar, who expelled him from the Janata Dal United last month after an acrimonious war of words. Announcing a “Baat Bihar Ki” programme to reach out to thousands of the state’s younger voters, the ace election-planner ruled out forming any political party or joining one ahead of the Bihar election later this year.

“I have no intention of joining another political party or coalition… my sole focus is that in the next 100 days I will launch this program ‘Baat Bihar Ki’, involving all those people who believe in the vision of Bihar to be among the top 10 states in India,” Prashant Kishor said, pledging to connect with 1,000 people across the state.

This was Mr Kishor’s first press conference since his expulsion from Bihar’s ruling party; in the intervening period he added another successful election to his scorecard with AAP’s stunning win in Delhi.

Declaring that he was now fully focused on Bihar, Mr Kishor reeled off numbers that he claimed showed very little progress in the state between 2005 and 2020 and challenged Nitish Kumar to confront him on the data.

“Bihar has made progress in the last 15 years, but we must also see that compared to other states, Bihar falls short even today… Why is that? It stands where it was in 2005. Except Jharkhand, Bihar is still the most backward state in India. Bihar was the poorest state in 2005 and continues to be so. There is no one to question Nitish Kumar’s governance model,” said the former JDU vice president.

He also needled his former boss on his rivalry with RJD chief Lalu Yadav. “Yes, there are been significant progress from Lalu ji’s time and Nitish ji’s time. I agree that you must promote the work you’ve done for Bihar… but if you give a comparison between Lalu ji’s time and your (Nitish Kumar) time, you must also let the people know how Bihar stands when compared to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” he said.

As he dissected the Chief Minister’s claims about development in Bihar, Mr Kishor also questioned what he called Nitish Kumar’s ideological compromise to stay in the alliance with the BJP. Support for Mahatma Gandhi and support for his killer Nathuram Godse cannot go together, he stressed, urging Mr Kumar to pick a side.

“There have been many discussions between me and Nitish ji about the party’s ideology. Nitish ji always told us that the party can never leave the ideals of Gandhi ji…. But now the party is with those who are soft on Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse…. For me Gandhi ji and Godse cannot go hand-in-hand,” Mr Kishor said.

On his expulsion, he said: “Nitish Kumar saw me as a son and I always saw him as a father. It is Nitish Kumar’s prerogative to take me into the party or expel me, I will always respect him.”

Mr Kishor was expelled after he repeatedly attacked Mr Kumar over his stand on the citizenship law CAA and questioned his alliance with the BJP despite the ideological mismatch.