- Janata Dal United held its national executive meeting today
- Sources say Nitish Kumar had an hour-long meet with Prashant Kishor too
- Mamata Banerjee met with Prashant Kishor on Thursday
The much expected explanation from Prashant Kishor about signing up to help Mamata Banerjee with her election campaign, did not materialise as Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United held its national executive meeting on Sunday. Instead, Mr Kishor, the party vice president, was seen sitting next to the Chief Minister, raising speculation that Mr Kumar is turning a blind eye to the issue after being snubbed by the BJP over ministerial berths in Narendra Modi's government.
Nitish Kumar rules Bihar in alliance with the BJP, which is hoping to wrest Bengal from Mamata Banerjee in the next assembly election in the state in 2021. So, the commitment of Prashant Kishor - known for the high strike rate of his election strategies - was expected to have put the Chief Minister in a spot.
"I just want to make it clear that this thing has no connection with the party," Nitish Kumar said on Saturday when asked about the issue. He, however, added, "Tomorrow, there is a meeting of the National Executive of the party. Prashant Kishor himself will talk about it there".
"The JDU has nothing to do with I-PAC... It is not a part of JD(U) either. Why was this question not raised when he (Kishor) worked for Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections," JDU national chief general secretary KC Tyagi was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India
Sources on Sunday said before the national executive started, Nitish Kumar had an hour-long meeting with Prashant Kishor. While details of their discussions are not available, there is speculation that Mr Kishor will be allowed to go ahead with strategizing for Ms Banerjee.
The Bengal Chief Minister who has been hard pressed to check the growth of the BJP in the state, had approached Prashant Kishor last week. In the recent national elections, Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress had nosedived from 34 to 22 seats in the state, while the BJP went up from two to 18.
Sources indicated that in view of the BJP's refusal to accommodate his idea of proportional representation of allies in the cabinet, has spurred Mr Kumar's indifference to the ally's prospects in Bengal. It was a sharp contrast from February, when following speculation that Mr Kishor had offered to craft an election strategy for Shiv Sena, the JDU had said he would not revert to his earlier career on behalf of any party.
The JDU also clarified today that the JDU will not be a part of NDA outside the state of Bihar and will contest the upcoming elections alone in Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Haryana and Delhi.
The BJP had requested Nitish Kumar to arrest Prashant Kishore or keep him "out of Bihar" after the clashes during the Patna university election. But Mr Kumar had taken no action against the election analyst, who was behind his victory in 2015 as part of the Grand Alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress.
Mr Kishor shot to fame after his campaign for Prime Minister Narendra Modi propelled the BJP to power in the 2014 national elections. But after falling out with the BJP, he crafted the assembly election campaigns for the Grand Alliance in Bihar and the Congress in Punjab. Last year he joined the Janata Dal United. His last big achievement was the crafting of the campaign of Jagan Mohan Reddy, who came to power in Andhra Pradesh with a huge majority.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.