ZEROING IN ON NITISH

Ideally, to strike when the iron is hot is good, effective strategy. Election strategist Prashant Kishor took his first step forward in Patna on Tuesday to change the political discourse in his native state by launching “Baat Bihar Ki” and announced his aim to make Bihar one of the “best 10 states” in the country. This is a loud call, though.

At the outset, the sum and substance of his narrative is to effect a change of leadership in the state – where a crafty Nitish Kumar ran the government for many years through the instrument of his Janata Dal United (JDU) and showed rare flexibility in allying with rival political formations – and with little regard to ideology or principles. Nitish Kumar did some good work and failed on many fronts too. The state remains as among the poorest. Overall, either Nitish is tired or his days are numbered. The political scenario in Bihar is ideal for a change. Lalu Prasad, jailed, might not be in the reckoning, but his party is; and it is held aloft by his son. But, it’s a big question whether he can command the support that his father once did.

From the looks of it, the kingmaker that Kishor was, he is now aspiring to be king; and starting with his own home state. It is a debatable point whether he can penetrate the casteist mould of the politics in the state and cross the firewall unscathed. To his advantage are his clean image, a fertile brain, youthfulness and exposure to the outside world by being a functionary at United Nations as a public health specialist. His claim is he crafted victories for worthies such as Narendra Modi first for the CM stakes in 2011 and then for the PM’s post in 2014 – and followed by similar services to Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Jaganmohan Reddy and recently to Arvind Kejriwal. Having got involved so much in politics, it is time he steps directly into the limelight rather than pulling the strings for others from behind the curtains. At the same time, practising politics is no easy job; its path is filled with booby-traps. Kishor must know as much.

When it comes to strategy, Kishor seems to be taking the right positions vis-à-vis his expected entry into the electoral fray. He has sided with the minorities by opposing the CAA – a reason why CM Nitish Kumar packed him off from the JDU a month ago. Kishor, though, might electorally gain from this; and not lose either.

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