By Prarthana Mitra
Public health expert and election strategist Prashant Kishor was handpicked by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday, to serve as the new Vice President of JD(U). This not only consolidates his upper hand in the coming polls but also confirms his role as Kumar’s right hand.
The conferment comes within a month of Kishor’s plunge from the sidelines into direct politics, when Kumar initiated him into JD(U), a formidable regional power and crucial opponent to the NDA-BJP combine.
What earned him the role
His expertise also prevented several succession battles from turning violent in Bihar – something that other regional parties like Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and DMK in Tamil Nadu have not been so successful at. Before this, Kishor had played an instrumental role in delivering key victories to BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 election campaign.
Kishor, a long-time public health expert and programme director for the UN, parted ways with BJP soon after the last general elections. He rose to prominence in Bihar for stitching an alliance with the opposition parties to script a major (and unlikely) win for JD(U), RJD and Congress in 2015. That was the start of the camaraderie between Kishor and Kumar, who he helped put on the chief ministerial seat.
In the last couple of months, Kumar has reportedly conveyed to his closest aides that he sees “Kishor deciding the way forward for the JD(U)”. Senior members of the party believe his appointment can help JD(U) unlock access to sections of society that is situated outside their traditional vote bank.
A new hand-over
Right after Kishor joined JD(U) last month, Kumar insinuated that Kishor could be its political successor. In an address to his party, he is reported to have said, “Prashant is the way forward.” This is significant because it introduces the first break in the precedence given to blood relations in choosing Bihar’s political heirs. Kumar intends to make a new example of political handover based on a shared vision and understanding.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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