Poll strategist and JD(U) leader Prashant Kishor's assertion that the Nitish Kumar-led party should contest on more seats than the BJP in the Assembly polls due next year has been met with dismay in the BJP and disapproval in the JD(U) with a senior party leader terming Kishor's statement "untimely".
Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Monday launched a veiled attack on Kishor, charging that those "engaged in the business of collating political data and coining slogans" were benefiting the Opposition in the state.
"The 2020 Assembly polls in the state will be fought under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Seat-sharing will be finalised by top leaders of both parties at an appropriate time," Sushil tweeted.
Sushil also said that there were no problems in the alliance. "No problems in that. But those, who have entered politics not driven by ideology but while engaged in the business of collating political data and coining slogans, are making utterances in violation of coalition dharma and benefiting the opposition in the bargain," he tweeted.
Kishor had said on Monday that the JD(U), headed by Nitish, had a greater political heft in Bihar and, as such, it should contest more seats than the saffron party in the state Assembly polls due next year.
"In my view, the Lok Sabha election formula cannot be repeated in the Assembly polls," Kishor told newspersons in Patna on Monday, also asserting that the Assembly elections are to be fought with Nitish Kumar as the NDA face, Kishor said.
"If we look at the 2010 Assembly polls, which the JD (U) and the BJP had last contested together, the ratio was 1:1.4. Even if there is a slight change this time, it cannot be that both parties fight an equal number of seats," he said.
The poll strategist-turned-politician, who became a full-time member of the JD(U) just about a year ago, had also dismissed suggestions that Nitish might be expected to cede some ground to the BJP, a favour he had extended in the 2015 Assembly polls for Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
"There can be no comparison between the two scenarios. In 2015, in the outgoing Assembly, the JD(U) had about 120 MLAs while the RJD had only 20. But since the alliance was an entirely new experiment, many things were factored in.
"Moreover, even if the 2015 Assembly polls are taken as benchmark this time, it is undeniable that JD(U)'s tally was significantly higher than that of the BJP. So my contention of a 1:1.4 ratio holds ground. I am not talking about the number of seats that each party could contest. I am talking about the proportion," he said.
He also asserted that the formula of Lok Sabha polls this year wherein JD(U) and BJP had both fought 17 seats each, leaving six for Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2014, a year after Kumar's exit, could not serve as the basis for the Assembly polls.
"The seat-sharing formula in 2019 was decided without taking the 2014 poll results into account. I see no reason why a future election should be decided on the basis of 2019," he said.
Kishor's suggestions have also met with disapproval in the JD(U) with Nitish' close aide RCP Singh calling it "untimely".
"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, the 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 Nitish'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, also over the latter's statements against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
"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," Singh said.
The state 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 Modi's 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 organisation", Bihar BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand tweeted.
"The BJP believes in maintaining decorum, discipline and not making any public statement which has only news value. All the decisions in NDA related to 2020 elections are a matter of discussion between our top leadership," Anand added.
Interestingly, Nitish 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 has been upset over Kishors collaborations with anti-BJP figures like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Jagan Mohan Reddy.
With inputs from PTI
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Updated Date: Dec 31, 2019 09:42:49 IST