- Prashant Kishor himself will talk about it tomorrow, says Nitish Kumar
- Whosoever his company is working for, that only he knows, Mr Kumar adds
- This thing has no connection with the party, he says
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday said he had no idea about the role his party's vice president Prashant Kishor will play for his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee who has signed up as the election strategist in the face of a growing challenge from the BJP.
Mr Kishor's new assignment has put Nitish Kumar in a spot since he rules Bihar in alliance with the BJP. Responding to the move for the first time, Mr Kumar denied that the BJP has objected so far but admitted this could cause confusion.
"Tomorrow there is a meeting of the National Executive of the party. Prashant Kishor himself will talk about it there. When he was inducted in the party last year, we gave him an important responsibility," he said.
"But he has an organisation that works under his guidance. So in that way, whosoever his company is working for, that only he knows... I just want to make it clear that this thing has no connection with the party. He will explain," Mr Kumar added.
Still smarting after losing ground to the BJP in last month's national election, Mamata Banerjee had on Thursday met with Mr Kishor, whose latest success is Jagan Mohan Reddy's stunning victory in Andhra Pradesh. After a two-hour meeting in Kolkata, she signed up for Mr Kishor's "election-winning package", reports said.
Ms Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress nosedived from 34 to 22 seats in 42-seat Bengal in the parliamentary election, is locked in a bitter tussle with the BJP that has gone on an audacious seven-phase defection spree to scoop up its leaders and political workers. It has also rattled the Chief Minister with a campaign to turn Hindu sentiments against the Trinamool using the row over the "Jai Shri Ram" slogan.
The BJP, which took its tally to 18 parliamentary seats in the state from a meagre 2, made it clear it would not stop until it ousted the Trinamool in the next assembly election, due in 2021.
"He (Prashant Kishor) is a famous political strategist. He has a connection with all parties in different states. But when he joined the party (Janata Dal United) as a political activist," Nitish Kumar said.
Mr Kishor, 42, is credited with YSR Congress chief Jagan Reddy's sweep in Andhra Pradesh, where the incumbent Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's party was voted out of power last month. After winning over 150 of 175 assembly constituencies, Jagan Reddy took power in the state for the first time.
Prashant Kishor joined politics last year as the vice president of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal United, but he was hardly given any job for the election. His party chief Nitish Kumar was apparently under pressure from ally BJP, which was upset with the strategist over his effort to expand the party's base among the youth in Bihar.
Prashant Kishor winning streak with the successful campaigns of Narendra Modi in 2014 and Nitish Kumar in 2015 was interrupted by his flop venture to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. He was instrumental in getting Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress's Rahul Gandhi to tie up, which set up his famous "UP ke Ladke (UP boys)" campaign. But the coalition was pulverised by the BJP.
Mr Kishor redeemed his record somewhat with Congress's Punjab win in the same year.
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