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Prashant Kishor is a victim of failed efforts for a Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav pact last year

Lalu Yadav, wife Rabri said Prashant Kishor came to them with a merger proposal. Kishore denied it and dared Lalu to reveal what transpired in those meetings.

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Patna: When RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were sealing their alliance ahead of the 2015 Assembly elections, the former had praised election-strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor as ‘Nitish ka deemag’, or the brain behind Nitish Kumar.

Today, Kishor is engaged in a war of words with Lalu’s family, especially his wife Rabri Devi. The reason for this lies in a series of secret meetings that took place last year between Nitish and Lalu’s family that yielded nothing. Kishor is now caught in the dust that refuses to settle from those failed meetings.

“Nitish sent his pigeon with a message seeking a reunion of the two parties. I threw him out from the house,” remarked former chief minister Rabri Devi in a WhatsApp group of RJD Saturday.

The group has a photo of a double-headed snake hitting out at Nitish, hinting at how no one knows which way he will go.

On Friday, Rabri Devi in a TV interview, had indicated that Kishor had come five times to Lalu with the proposal to merge together Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal, and that the new entity declare its “prime ministerial candidate” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Nitish had in 2017 walked out of the Grand Alliance, which was formed upon his party’s partnership with the RJD and the Congress. He then re-joined the BJP-led NDA.

Kishor is not campaigning for the NDA this election and now spends most of his time in Hyderabad, where he is busy shaping up Jagan Reddy-led YSR Congress’ poll prospects, even though he is the JD(U) national vice-president.

Also read: Prashant Kishor is back in business, this time with Jagan Reddy

As Rabri Devi’s allegations gained traction, Kishor hit back.

“Those convicted or facing charges of abuse of public office and misappropriation of funds are claiming to be the custodians of truth,” he tweeted, also challenging Lalu to hold a public debate on who offered what to each other in their meetings.

The RJD instantly hit back calling him a ‘bajaru neta’ (a leader on sale) and said the political experience of RJD leaders was more than his age and it would be better if he remained silent.

Verbal spat going on since 4 April

The angry exchange between Kishor and Lalu’s family has been going on since 4 April when Lalu, in his new autobiography ‘Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey’, claimed that Nitish had attempted to reunite with him through Kishor.

“The claims made by Lalu ji as reported are bogus. This is nothing but a poor attempt seeking relevance by a leader whose best days are behind him. Yes, we did meet many times before I joined JDU, but if I were to tell what all was discussed then he would be quite embarrassed,” Kishor had tweeted.

Kishor was also engaged in a verbal duel with former Bihar deputy chief minister and Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav, who had also said that Nitish had made several attempts to reunite with his father.

Kishor dismissed Tejashwi, saying that as a person his sole claim to fame was that he is Lalu’s son.

Kishor’s relation with Nitish is strained now

Ironically, the battle between Kishor and Lalu’s family is unfolding at a time when his relationship with Nitish has strained.

Kishor’s second tenure with Nitish as the national vice president of JD(U) has not been cozy as in his first stint in 2015, it was he who used to call the shots and even senior leaders of the party were asked to listen to him.

Nitish had caused major embarrassment by stressing that he had brought in Kishor at the behest of BJP president Amit Shah. He kept Kishor out of election work and seat-sharing talks with the BJP, forcing him to ultimately shift to Hyderabad without quitting the party.

Also read: Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is having a rough ride as JD-U vice-president


‘Meetings did take place’ 

Sources both in the JD(U) and RJD confirm talks between Kishor and Lalu did take place in May and June last year, and there is a reason for these meetings.

Nitish re-joined NDA in July 2017. But after joining, said a source, he felt he was not being given due importance. There were no special doles for Bihar nor was he made the NDA convener, which would have propped him up nationally.

“The humiliation came when PM Modi ignored his request to declare Patna University a central university at its centenary function,” a senior JDU leader said.

“He suspected that the BJP wanted him to play the second fiddle. Perhaps Nitish wanted to send a message to the BJP that they should not take him for granted,” the leader said.

A source indicated that Nitish had put a rider that Tejashwi would not be included in the ministry since he is an accused in the Railway hotel scam being probed by the CBI.

“That condition left Lalu ji cold. He will not agree to anything that excludes Tejashwi Yadav,” remarked a senior RJD leader, pointing out that the Grand Alliance government had collapsed in 2017 because Lalu had refused to withdraw Tejashwi as deputy CM after the CBI raided 10 Circular Road, Lalu’s residence.

Since then the BJP has bent backwards to please Nitish by dropping five sitting MPs to accommodate him and being more liberal with central schemes for Bihar.

Kishor appears to be caught in the cross-fire and becoming the collateral damage in the ensuing bitterness over a deal, which could not materialise.

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