In 2020, political and election strategist Prashant Kishor was expelled from Janata Dal United (JDU), headed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On Friday, the two men reportedly met secretly at dinner, kicking off speculation that there was a special agenda that they had discussed.
On Saturday, however, agencies reported that the 70-year-old Bihar Chief Minister dismissed the speculation, countering the question with, “Prashant Kishor se hamare sambandh kya aaj ke hain (has my relationship with Prashant Kishor only begun today)? There was no special meaning behind the meeting.”
The trouble between Kumar and Kishor can be traced back to the latter’s public opposition to the highly controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), for which the poll strategist was acrimoniously sacked from the JDU, an ally of the BJP-led Central government, amid reports of a fallout with Nitish Kumar. The contentious law – which led to strong protests across the country – has been labelled as discriminatory against Muslims by critics.
Prashant Kishor had agreed to abide by the JDU leadership’s decision to expel him. “Nitish ji always treated me like his son, and he was like father to me. So whatever decisions he has taken, I am fine with those. He inducted me in the party, and expelled me – but I don’t hold a grudge against him,” he had said at the time.
The latest meeting also comes amid speculation regarding a growing rift between Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Prashant Kishor’s organisation IPAC, as a result of which the latter unfollowed Banerjee’s official Twitter handle, only to later follow her again, and unfollow her for a second time. Significantly, even many TMC insiders say IPAC was instrumental in TMC’s huge win in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections.
Last year, there was buzz that Kishor was about to join Congress, but he has scotched the rumour in recent interviews. He has also been vocal in his criticism of the Gandhis and the Congress party’s functioning.