Prashant Kishor, who had “successfully” managed the campaign for the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance in the recently concluded Assembly elections in Bihar, has supposedly asked the Chief Minister for a Rajya Sabha seat.
Though Kishor could not be contacted, a senior JDU source said that Kishor has expressed his desire to be nominated for one of the five Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in July 2016, even as several senior JDU leaders are feeling “uncomfortable” with the “growing proximity” of Nitish Kumar with Kishor. “Kishor is there with Nitish Kumar everywhere. Party leaders who have worked with the Chief Minister for years are not able to digest this,” he said.
Shyam Rajak, a senior leader who was very close to Nitish Kumar till the elections, is upset as he was not included in the Cabinet, apparently on Kishor’s advice. Rajak did not attend the party’s national executive meeting held here on 20-21 December.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Bihar, all from JDU – Gulam Rasool Balyawi, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, K.C. Tyagi, Pavan Kumar Varma and Sharad Yadav – are going to retire in the middle of next year. Nitish Kumar is in a catch-22 situation, as now with the RJD and Congress also supporting his government, he has to accommodate candidates of the two parties as well.
According to the source, RJD is also pushing for its candidates. If that happens, JDU will have to be satisfied with just two seats. In that case, its number may come down to nine from 12, whereas RJD’s strength may increase to three. At present, RJD has only one member in the Upper House. Nitish Kumar has now got to decide who to drop or give another term.
“All the five are contenders for another term. It will be difficult to drop any of them. In such a situation, Prashant Kishor has put his candidature which has put Nitish Kumar in a fix,” the source said.
It is believed that the BJP, with 53 MLAs, may be able to win at least one seat from Bihar, thereby increasing its number in the Rajya Sabha from four to five.
Kishor was credited by many for ensuring the JDU-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance’s victory, resulting in Nitish Kumar returning as the Chief Minister. Sources said Kishor had asked the BJP leadership as well for a Rajya Sabha seat which was denied. It was only after this denial that he met Nitish Kumar in June this year and offered to manage his campaign for the Assembly election, to which the latter agreed. Nitish’s “growing proximity” with Kishor is causing resentment among some senior party leaders. “The existence of the Grand Alliance actually came to the fore during last year’s by-election in which the JDU-RJD contested together. That time Prashant Kishor was not there. Of course, he handled the election well, but it will be wrong to say that the Grand Alliance won only because of him. It was due to consolidation of votes and Nitish Kumar’s good work,” the JDU source said.