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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

‘Prashant Kishor proposed JDU-RJD merger’: Rabri Devi puts Nitish Kumar’s aide in dock

Nitish Kumar had last year walked out of the Grand Alliance, which was formed upon his party’s partnership with the RJD and the Congress. He re-joined the BJP-led NDA.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 12, 2019 19:03 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Prashant Kishor, a poll strategist who became a full-time member of the JD(U) in September last year, took to Twitter admitting that he had met Lalu Prasad “many times” before joining the party.
Prashant Kishor, a poll strategist who became a full-time member of the JD(U) in September last year, took to Twitter admitting that he had met Lalu Prasad “many times” before joining the party. (PTI)

Election-strategist-turned politician Prashant Kishor may have more explaining to do after former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi’s claim. Rabri Devi on Friday said Kishor, the JD-U vice-president met her husband Lalu Prasad, the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal with a proposal for merger of the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“Kishor came up with a proposal for the merger of the two parties, which, in turn, would declare its prime ministerial candidate,” said Rabri Devi to back Prasad’s earlier claim.

Prasad, in a recently published biography, said that Kishor approached him to broker Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD-U’s return to the grand-alliance in Bihar. Kishor, on his part, has denied the claim made by Prasad in the biography.

However, Rabri Devi said “If he denies having met my husband with a proposal to declare prime ministerial candidate of the merged entity ahead of polls, he will be speaking a blatant lie.”

Kumar was part of the grand-alliance that also includes the Congress during the Bihar assembly elections in 2015, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was routed in the polls.

Kumar returned to the NDA fold in 2017 over increasing differences with the RJD amid allegations of corruption against Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav, the then deputy chief minister.

Rabri Devi, in an interview to a regional news channel, admitted that she was furious on hearing the proposal and had asked Kishor to leave as there was no trust left in the Bihar chief minister, following his sudden betrayal of people’s mandate, after he walked out of the grand-alliance to re-join the BJP-led NDA.

“The entire staff, including security personnel, are witnesses to Kishor’s visit . He called on us at least five times, mostly here (10, Circular Road residence), and one or two times at paanch number (5, Deshratna Marg - the bungalow allotted to her younger son Tejashwi Yadav),” she said.

Adding credence to Prasad’s claim, Rabri said “Kishor was sent by Nitish Kumar with the proposal to merge both parties and declare a prime ministerial candidate. He visited us in broad daylight and not clandestinely in the dark of night.”

The assertion of former chief minister has added a new twist to the ongoing debate after Prasad’s claim that Kumar was disillusioned with the NDA within six months of parting ways with the RJD and the Congress. He also claimed that Kumar had entrusted Kishor with the task to explore the possibility of his re-entry into the grand-alliance. Kishor, he said, had met him several times.

As the disclosure caused political embarrassment, Kishore, who became a full-time member of the JD-U in September last year, took to Twitter admitting that he had met Prasad “many times” before joining the party.

He, however, qualified his statement saying, “If I were to tell what all was discussed, he (Lalu) would not be in a position to speak.”

Rabri Devi also took exception to Kumar’s recent dig on RJD supremo during a media interaction, in which he claimed that Prasad keeps talking to Kishor from jail.

“Even we (family members) do not get an opportunity for a telephonic talk with him (Lalu Prasad),” she said adding that Kumar should speak about Mokama legislator Anant Singh’s claim, in an interview to a local news portal, that Lalan Singh (a minister in Bihar government) used to arrange his telephonic talks with Kumar while he was in jail.

The Mokama MLA quit JD-U ahead of 2015 assembly polls. Now his wife Neelam Devi is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a Congress candidate from Munger, where she is pitted against JD-U’s Lalan Singh, considered close to the chief minister.

The JD-U has rubbished the claims made by Rabri Devi with party general secretary and chief spokesperson KC Tyagi saying, “Kishor has not talked on these issues.”

BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said that such claims have no basis and are aimed at striking an emotive chord with the electorates to leverage Prasad’s absence from the poll scene. “This will not work,” he said.

First Published: Apr 12, 2019 17:25 IST