Prashant Kishor -- Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's number two in the Janata Dal United -- called out his boss on Tuesday over his claim that he was inducted in the party through a recommendation from the BJP's all-powerful leader Amit Shah. "If you are telling the truth, who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by Amit Shah," posted Mr Kishor, who has been publicly demanding that Mr Kumar say no to the citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens.
Amid the bitter and public feud on the issue, Nitish Kumar on Tuesday made it clear that Prashant Kishor has to fall in line if he wants to stay in the party. Unlike the last time Mr Kishor sailed close to quitting, Nitish Kumar indicated this time that whether the election strategist stayed or walked, he was fine with either.
"Rahega to theek, nahi rahega to theek. (If he stays, it's ok. If he goes, it's ok)," Mr Kumar told reporters. "Already he (Prashant Kishor) works as a strategist for various parties, but I'm making one thing clear, if he wants to remain in the party he will have to adopt the basic structure of the party," the Janata Dal United (JDU) chief.
Prashant Kishor, Mr Kumar claimed, was inducted in the party because of a very strong recommendation. "Amit Shah told me to induct him. He must have something on his mind? Maybe he wants to leave...," Mr Kumar remarked.
Minutes later, Prashant Kishor indicated he had much to say. "Nitish Ji has spoken, you should wait for my answer. I will come to Bihar to answer him," said Prashant Kishor.
He followed it up with a tweet:
.@NitishKumar what a fall for you to lie about how and why you made me join JDU!! Poor attempt on your part to try and make my colour same as yours!— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) January 28, 2020
And if you are telling the truth who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by @AmitShah?
Mr Kumar had made the claim about Amit Shah's recommendation in an interview to a private television 14 months ago. Mr Kumar's supporters say his comment on Amit Shah was in poor taste, as just two days ago, he raised objections to private conversations being referred to in a letter written by Pavan Verma.
"In case of Prashant Kishor, Nitish babu could not practice what he was preaching to the world. Even Amit Shah had disapproved of Nitish Kumar's statement in the past, saying he shouldn't disclose such things in public," a supporter said.
Since the citizenship law -- which for the first time introduces religion as a test for citizenship -- was passed in December with support from Nitish Kumar's JDU, Prashant Kishor has vociferously argued against it. He has also demanded that the Chief Minister reject the NRC in clear and unequivocal terms -- a remark that took him close to a break with the party.
Earlier this month, he drew fresh battlelines with the BJP, tweeting that there would be no implementation of the citizenship law or list in the state. To compound it, he also thanked Congress's Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, "for their formal and unequivocal rejection of #CAA_NRC" - seen as a dig at his boss.
Last month, he issued what was effectively a new dare to the BJP, suggesting that the JDU should get more seats than its partner in the state elections scheduled this year.