Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Nitish, PK meet again

  • Don’t read too much, says Nitish
  • Courtesy call, says PK

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and famous election strategist Prashant Kishor (PK) had dinner on Friday and discussed for two hours. It was the first meeting between them after falling out in 2020. The meeting took place in Nitish Kumar’s official residence in Delhi. Nitish asked reporters in Delhi not to read too much into the dinner meeting since he had old ties with the election strategist. PK told NDTV that it was a courtesy visit. He said when Nitish Kumar was down with Omicron infection, he called him up to inquire about his health. Nitish expressed his desire to see him.

Prodigal sons of Bihar

Both are prodigals. Both are clever enough not to burn bridges. Both are optimists. PK recently told an interviewer that he had no problems with Nitish. After being sacked from JD(U) from the position of vice president, second only to Nitish, PK had done business with many Indian leaders across the country. His present client is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamatha Banerjee. He was not very happy in Kolkata though he was advising leaders to leave the Congress and join the TMC. PK met Sharad Pawar. He had a series of meetings with Gandhi family for two years. He almost joined the Congress at the top. It did not materialize due to some hitch developed in last minute. Both PK and Priyanka spoke about the problems that cropped up at the eleventh hour but both were certain that there were no hard feelings. PK even indicated that he is prepared work with the Congress and Gandhis even now provided the other side is ready. As far as Nitish is concerned, PK said “We are poles apart, politically.” Why do they spend so much time together if they are so opposed to each other? There are no permanent friends or enemies or stances in politics.

When PK joined Nitish and the relationship between them was so very cordial, political observers thought the former would be latter’s political successor. But when Nitish had to support the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which was bitterly opposed by PK, the vice-president had to go. The election strategist felf that if the CAA law is combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the minorities, especially the Muslims, would have a tough time. Pavan K Varma, JD(U) Rajya Sabha Member, also had to leave the party due to his disagreement with Nitish on CAA. Not that Nitish supported the amendment whole heartedly. It was his political compulsion. PK does not like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his first client. By the time PK was expelled from JD(U), he was not sure about his future plans. He said at that time that he would continue to work for Bihar. By now, he had travelled, albeit as a strategist, from BJP to JD(U)  to Congress to YCP to TMC and DMK, completing a circle – from extreme right to extreme left. But there seem to be some problems for his team, I-PAC, with Mamata and his nephew Abhishek. He needs a political platform. He does not want to end up as a strategist. He would like to be an activist- a full-fledged politician and Bihar would be his place.

Nitish Kumar, on his part, had taken BJP into his fold after jettisoning RJD. He continued to be the chief minister even though his party got lesser seats than the BJP, which emerged as the largest single party in Bihar assembly, during the last elections. BJP was his old ally whom he abandoned to embrace arch rival Lalu Prasad Yadav. After hopping BJP-RJD-BJP, now Nitish is not very happy with his latest alliance. Things like call of genocide or hijab don’t impress Nitish who is basically a secular politician. Though he is the Chief Minister, his party is a junior partner to BJP. He knows how the saffron party treats junior partners. He felt humiliated earlier when he joined hands with Lalu. When he found it difficult to carry on with Tejashwi, Lalu’s younger son, he had to debunk the RJD and go to BJP which was only waiting with stretched arms. 

Wily and calculative, Nitish Babu must have a purpose in meeting Prashant Kishor. It is not a chance meeting. It was planned and went on for two hours. May be he wanted to send a signal to the BJP that he could not be ill-treated. If Nitish goes away, there would not be any major party in alliance with the BJP after Shiv Sena and Akali Dal went out. PK is any way on the job of mobilizing opposition parties to rally against the BJP. Nitish could be seen as keeping his options open even though he is not prepared to ditch the BJP, once again, immediately. There is no hurry. He can take a decision after watching the results on March 10. BJP on its own would not break the alliance. Initiative will be with Nitish. He can afford to wait. This kind of political games played by two Biharis, one old, cool and perseverant and the other young, bright  and ambitious, could be called waiting for opportunities if not outright opportunistic politics.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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