India

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor joins Janata Dal-United

Political analyst and election strategist Prashant Kishor made a grand political debut as he joined Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other top leaders at the party's state executive meet in Patna on Sunday. The party welcomed him saying "sky is the limit".

Kishor, who was instrumental in Nitish's return to power in 2015 Assembly elections, was given a seat next to the JD-U president soon after he was inducted in the party.

"Ours is a kaam-based (work-based) and not a caste-based party," said Nitish, while addressing senior party leaders and district functionaries on Sunday.

Nitish told party leaders that Kishor was the future and it is expected that he will soon be handed over some major role, either within the party or in the Bihar government, said a source present at the meet. As a welcome gesture, Kishor was given a JD-U sash along with a joining receipt by Nitish.

Before the official announcement, Kishor took to microblogging site Twitter and in his maiden tweet, wrote, "Excited to start my new journey from Bihar!"

He also has a quote from Mahatma Gandhi on his account, reading, "The best politics is right action."

Political experts felt Nitish wanted Kishor as the Number 2 in the JD-U not just to "intimidate foes and put pressure on allies (read BJP), but also to project the 41-year-old as the party's youth icon against RJD's Tejashwi Yadav". "The kingmaker has now entered the arena himself. He had designed Nitish's Saat Nishchai and Bihar Vikas Mission concepts then. With polls round the corner again, Nitish is likely to ask him to take these forward," the source said.

The source said that the CM had hinted about expansion of the state cabinet next month, and Kishor might secure a slot in it. When asked about it, party MP RCP Singh neither confirmed nor denied it and said, "It is the CM's prerogative but anyone can become a minister." He added that Kishor was not new to politics and said, "When one is a poll strategist, he understands elections very well. We are happy that he joined us. This is the difference in our party. If you want to work, then sky is the limit."

Earlier too, Nitish had appointed Kishor as his advisor in the Mahagathbandhan government, by virtue of which he enjoyed the status and perks of a Bihar cabinet minister. It was discontinued when the government fell and NDA camp came to power.

Kishor, who has roots in Rohtas district while his family is based in Buxar, may be a possible JD-U candidate from either of the constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a source said and added, "While his position in the party is unclear, his political acumen will definitely be used by the party to win maximum seats in 2019 and 2020." In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the JD-U had managed just two seats of the 38 seats it had contested.

That was the year when Kishor had shot to national fame by strategising PM Narendra Modi's election campaign. Later, he coined the popular "Bihar mein bahaar hai, Nitish Kumar hai" campaign in 2015 for Nitish to help him return to power. He also designed polls campaigns for other parties, including the Congress in Punjab.

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