Patna: A year after he formally retired from election strategising, political strategist Prashant Kishor has made his political intentions for the immediate future clear: He has announced a new venture, ‘Jan Suraaj’, that he claims is a political initiative, not a party.
Kishor — whose list of high-profile clients has included the BJP, Congress, the YSR Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Trinamool Congress — announced his initiative at a press conference in Patna Thursday.
Kishor was the leader behind the 2015 victory of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar — the now-defunct alliance of the JD(U), the RJD, and the Congress.
Although he did not announce his party just yet, he revealed what appears to be the groundwork for a political venture: a 3,000 km ‘padyatra’, or foot march, across Bihar, starting from the West Champaran district — the place where Gandhi began his satyagraha movement against the British in 1917 — on 2 October, Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
What’s significant is that he did not rule out any future link with the Congress — a development that comes days after his talks with the party fell through.
He also spoke about the state of Bihar politics today.
“For three decades, Bihar has been ruled by two leaders — Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar,” he said.
“Followers of Lalu Prasad claim he brought social justice and gave a voice to the downtrodden, supporters of Nitish Kumar say that Nitish has improved infrastructure. There is an element of truth in both claims. But the truth is that Bihar is at the bottom of the ladder in every index after these 30 years.”
“Bihar cannot achieve the heights of a developed state on the path it has taken so far. It needs a new road for progress,” Kishor said.
Joining Bihar ‘politics’
Over the next few months, Kishor said, he would interact with 18,000 people — both political and non-political — he met through his previous activities in Bihar.
“I’ll go to every village and every corner of the state to meet people. If people want it, we’ll start a political party, of which I’ll be a member,” Kishor added.
Kishor’s choice of wading into Bihar politics is significant — not only because it is his home state but because it was here that he made his first full-fledged political jump in 2018 when he joined Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) and became its vice-president. Kishor was expelled from the party in 2020 for breach of party discipline after differences with Nitish over the CAA.
Since he has hinted at his political intentions, both Lalu and Nitish have dismissed him.
“He has been in many states and has been driven away. He will come and go,” Lalu said Wednesday, shortly after he was released from AIIMS Delhi.
On his part, Nitish Kumar claimed he knew nothing of Kishor’s political intentions.
“They are big leaders,” Kishor said when he was asked to respond to the statements. “I don’t expect them to react to a small fry like me.”
The Congress question
Kishor, who, until a few days ago, was negotiating with the Congress for a place within the party, spoke about why the talks fell through.
“The Congress leadership wanted an empowered committee to help revive the party,” he said. “But it would have been through an executive order of the party president. No empowered committee that exists because of the president’s order could be truly powerful.”
The talks fell through because of some suggestions Kishor had made to the Congress party’s leadership setup — a suggestion that the grand old party saw as unacceptable.
Kishor was careful Thursday, however, not to completely rule out any future collaboration with the Congress: When asked if there was such a possibility in the future, he said his ‘Jan Suraaj’ initiative would be central to any decision he made.
“You will see me as a political activist,” he said. “My company I-PAC is in good hands. It will do its job and I will not be associated with it,” he added, responding to ThePrint’s question about what happens to his role as a political strategist.
Asked if he regrets leaving behind his successful career, he said, “If anyone has doubts about my venture, they’ve good reasons for it… I can only appeal to them to see me and my actions in the future. I will dedicate myself completely to the people of Bihar. There has been no major political movement in Bihar after the JP movement. The time has come for another movement.”
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)