PATNA: Sharp differences within the ruling JD(U) in Bihar, over its ties with the BJP, came to the fore on Monday with a top leader voicing disapproval of Prashant Kishor's "untimely" statement on the seat-sharing formula for the upcoming assembly elections.
RCP Singh, the party's national general secretary (organization) and its leader in the Rajya Sabha, frowned upon the outspokenness of Kishor who is the national vice- president when his comments were sought by journalists at Gaya where he was holding a booth-level training program of the JD(U).
"Two things are clear about the 2020 polls first, elections will be fought under the leadership of Nitish babu. Second, seat-sharing is not something that will be decided in full media glare."
"It was seen during the Lok Sabha polls that top leaders of all NDA constituents had decided a workable formula and it was made public afterwards", Singh who has not been on the best of terms with Kishor said.
"Rest assured, top leadership of both parties (BJP and JD(U)) share an excellent understanding. And the seat-sharing formula for assembly polls will be arrived at with an even better understanding", said Singh a former IAS officer, who has been Kumar's close aide for more than a decade.
"Some people have a habit of giving statements over every issue. I do not have much to say about them but this is untimely. They should refrain from raising such matters prematurely", he added.
Singh, known to be among the select few who have the eyes and the ears of Kumar, has been sore with the flamboyant Kishor, who became a primary member of the JD(U) in September last year and was appointed the national vice-president after a few weeks.
The Rajya Sabha member had recently reacted with barely concealed frustration to Kishors flurry of tweets against the party's decision to vote in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament.
"Who are these people? What is their contribution to the organizational structure? How many new members have they made? ", Singh had snapped when asked about the former poll strategists stout opposition to the contentious legislation.
He added "there is no national vice-president in the party as of now. Even I am no more a national general secretary. Nitish Kumar has been elected as the national president for another term and he is yet to constitute a new national executive".
Barely a couple of days after Singh's outbursts, Kishor had flown down to Patna where he had an hour-long closed-door meeting with the Chief Minister.
After the meeting, he had announced before the media "RCP is our senior leader. I do not mind if he says anything about me. But Nitish Kumar has told me not to worry about what people in the party say about me. He will take care of all that".
A stickler for bureaucratic propriety, Singh displayed the same impatience with Kishors unorthodox style of politicking when in response to the latter's continued opposition to CAA, NPR and NRC, he said: "I do not wish to go on speaking about the one you people are naming".
"I have been explaining the CAA to the people and nobody has been able to pinpoint a single provision which adversely affects any social segment. But some people are fond of making statements so that they remain in the spotlight. I have nothing to say about them", a visibly annoyed Singh said.
The BJP, meanwhile, appeared unable to make sense of the turmoil within the JD(U) though it launched a veiled attack on Kishor whose first claim to fame was Narendra Modis spectacularly successful poll campaign of 2014.
"Organizational politics is all about following an ideology within a given framework and hierarchy. A publicity-seeking propagandist, desperate to play the role of a supremo and trying to express views on an issue which is the sole jurisdiction of the chief is dangerous for any organization", Bihar BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand tweeted.
Interestingly, Kumar had once claimed that one of the reasons he inducted Kishor into his party was a strong recommendation to the effect from Amit Shah.
However, the rank and file in the saffron party have been upset over Kishor's collaborations with anti-BJP figures like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Jagan Mohan Reddy.