Take a bow, Prashant Kishor, the man behind Grand Alliance's Bihar win

The numbers say it all. It’s a landslide victory for the Mahagathbandhan. The BJP, the largest single party in the world, is reduced to number three in Bihar. The results could not be worse for the party in a high stakes election. At the last count it had won 52 seats, of the 160 it contested.

While it’s a momentous day for all the Mahagathbandhan leaders — Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav and Rahul Gandhi — the man who be celebrating the most is the alliance’s backroom strategist Prashant Kishor. He has done what an army of BJP strategists and campaign managers could not. The Bihar victory is so big, so unexpected in numbers that he can safely borrow that famous line from blockbuster Deewar and twist it a bit to make it his sales catchphrase for any future tie-up with any political leader in any election-bound state, “Mere Paas Prashant Kishor hai”.

Incidentally, he was one of the key backroom players for Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, and also when he was running as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Nitish Kumar and Prashant Kishor. Twitter @akhileshsharma1

Nitish Kumar and Prashant Kishor. Twitter @akhileshsharma1

Kishor is a resident of Patna’s 7 Circular Road, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s official residence. But that is part of his working style. It’s perhaps a requirement of the nature of the job that he performs — he has to be in close and constant contact with the leader around whom he builds the campaign. He used to live at chief minister’s residence when he was with Narendra Modi in Gujarat.

Kishor is not modest about his credentials and the work he does. Shortly before the first phase of elections in Bihar, he would say, he would quit this profession if was not successful and would do something else. After the first phase of elections, Kishor sounded very buoyant, very confident of himself and the prospects of the Mahagathbandhan. He displayed the same confidence after the second and third phases, and so on. He is now the biggest celebrity in Patna, and in the rest of the country to whomsoever elections matter.

A few months ago, at around the time Kishor had joined hands with Nitish and the Congress, and was chosen as leader of what was called a Grand Coalition, he made his presence felt by putting Nitish on Twitter and putting a huge hoarding on Patna’s busiest intersection, the Income Tax roundabout, “Bihar mein bahar ho, phir se Nitish Kumar ho”. Soon, the perception around Nitish’s and the Mahagthbandhan’s winnability was built on a new hording which said; `Haan Bhaiya Bihar me Bahar Hai, Mr Kumar phir ek baar hai”. Not just the colour schemes but a bold call on the content on the hoarding was taken because it projected only Nitish, completely blacking out allies Lalu and the Congress.

He did change the colour scheme of his hoardings, neon signs and posters to draw attention afresh when actual campaigning reached greater peaks. His colour schemes were always very bold, bright yellow to red used in Marxist hoardings, so that it caught the eyes of all and sundry and be an instant talking point. Before every Modi visit, Nitish (or perhaps Kishor managing his leader’s official Twitter handle) would tweet asking a set of questions and responding to Modi on the conclusion of his visits.

It is difficult to assess whether it was his conviction in Nitish or it was his disillusionment with Modi or he had certain messages to convey to some top leaders in BJP, Amit Shah included, that he decided to join the Bihar chief minister and JD(U) boss.

“I wanted to see whether I was only riding a wave be at the right place at the right time with right person or something is there in me to turn around an election and win it. I am testing that for me (all by himself),” Kishor would often say in his interactions. “For once, the BJP should also get to know that”, he would add.

Kishor’s critics in JD(U) used to accuse Nitish for “outsourcing not only his campaign, but also his politics to him.” But Nitish kept his faith in him. “Prashant Kishor is from Bihar and he wants to do something for it,” he would say.

Though his campaigns har ghar dustak and collecting DNA samples to respond to Modi’s DNA comment against Nitish were not very successful, his 'Saat Nishchay' (seven resolutions) and men on specially-fitted bicycles with small calendar cards, as also audio video vans reached the message to homes of the electorate in the hinterland.

Conventional wisdom would suggest a conscious low profiling of Lalu vis-à-vis Nitish would anger the RJD chief but as the things progressed, Lalu too develop a liking for him and would discuss issues with him every morning and evening. Lalu’s aggressive dissection of Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on reservation is the single biggest turning point of these elections. The Bihari versus Bahari campaign by Nitish Kumar was another such issue.

Kishor also ensured that Lalu’s didn’t repeatedly use word communal against Modi and BJP so that the elections were not polarised on communal lines to BJP’s favour. But then it all changed around an 'agda versus pichda' polarisation.

Kishor is not to be seen in today’s victory photo frame but his imprint is there, in fact, almost everywhere in the Mahagathbandhan’s stupendous victory.

Updated Date: Nov 09, 2015 07:20 AM

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