PATNA: In the past, when asked how he had managed electioneering for rival political parties with equal ease and élan over the past six years, poll strategist Prashant Kishor would say with a disarming smile: “I am a professional”.
Now, as the national vice-president of Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal(U), he speaks as a committed worker of the party and an ardent follower of party president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The 41-year-old poll strategist-turned-politician, who joined JD(U) in September and was elevated to the No 2 position in the party hierarchy a month later, enjoys complete trust of Nitish. In fact, this is the first time the JD(U) has a national vice-president. Nitish, who himself persuaded Kishor to join the party, believes it would reap both short-term and long-term benefits from his skills and experience, say party insiders.
With his roots in Bihar, Kishor knows the state’s society and politics well. He was instrumental in the Grand Alliance’s thumping victory in the 2015 state polls. So, JD(U) leaders are assured that he would steer the party’s strategy for the next Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Kishor has already begun his work for the JD(U). Since the JD(U)’s youth and student wings are considerably weaker than those of ally BJP and arch rival RJD, Nitish has entrusted him with the task of strengthening these units, said sources close to the CM.
In a four-hour-long meeting with 300 office-bearers of JD(U)’s youth and student wings, Kishor asked them to embark on a membership drive across the state and make regular use of social media to propagate the party’s policies and achievements. “He has given them two months to raise the active membership strength of JD(U) students’ and youth wings to 2,500 and 5,000s respectively,” said party MLC and students’ wing in-charge Ranveer Nandan.
“Kishor is an energetic and youthful motivator, but also a hard taskmaster,” said Abhay Kushwaha, JD(U) legislator and state president of the party’s youth wing. “He listens to every office-bearer and explains to them our party’s need for a robust following among the youth. Nearly 60 per cent of Bihar’s population is under-40, and he wants them to know that Bihar’s future lies only in a stronger JD(U).”
Evaluating new faces as potential candidates for the 2020 Assembly polls is also among Kishor’s priorities.
While Kishor has ruled out contesting the Lok Sabha elections or nomination to the Rajya Sabha, sources said he might contest the Assembly polls. A lot is being read into what Nitish said while inducting him into the party: “He is the future”. For now, Kumar and Kishor are busy preparing a stronger base for JD(U)’s future.