After Citizenship Law, Prashant Kishor Presents New Challenge To BJP

Prashant Kishor has declared that the Janata Dal United (JDU) should get the lion's share of seats in the assembly election in Bihar, scheduled for next year

Prashant Kishore had rebelled over the citizenship law after the party's sudden support for it

Patna:

The man seen as Nitish Kumar's top aide, Prashant Kishor, has now created a new point of hostility with the BJP by suggesting that the Janata Dal United or JDU, the party of which he is Vice President, should get more seats than its partner in the state elections due next year.

In the general election swept by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and the JDU contested an equal number of seats. The PM's party reportedly expects that arrangement to continue for the state election.  However, Mr Kishor, who is an election strategist with a CV that includes assignments with Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mr Modi and the Congress, says the JDU should get more candidates than its partner based on the results of earlier elections.

The BJP and Mr Kumar split as allies in 2013, with the Chief Minister pogo-sticking back to the BJP two years later after running a government with regional heavyweight Lalu Yadav and the Congress.

"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," Mr Kishor said yesterday.

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 added.

What is effectively a new dare comes as Mr Kishor has vociferously argued against the new law championed by the centre which for the first time introduces religion as a test for citizenship. While his boss, Mr Kumar, instructed his party to support the Citizenship Amendment Act in parliament, he has since distanced himself from the controversial new rules at the urging of Mr Kishor who says that the government's intent of introducing a National Register of Citizens must be resisted by parties like his.

Critics of the new citizenship act say that the NRC will allow discrimination against Muslims and that while others who may be excluded from it will get relief from the CAA's provisions, Muslims will be left stateless.

The BJP claims that the seat-sharing will remain 50:50 as it was in the Lok Sabha election earlier this year. "Seat sharing will be decided by the high command of both parties and I can't understand why Prashant Kishor is poking his nose into this issue," said BJP leader Nitin Naveen.

In the general election this year, Mr Kumar delivered 16 of the 17 seats his party contested, while the BJP won all 17 that were assigned to it.

Sources in his party claim that the recent defeats of the  BJP in Maharashtra and Jharkhand have emboldened the JDU's leadership into a more aggressive stand.

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