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    Published On : Wed, Oct 28th, 2015
    National News | By Nagpur Today Nagpur News

    Not just Modi vs Nitish Bihar elections are also Shah vs Kishor

    Prashant Kishore with Narendra Modi
    Patna: For Prashant Kishor, former United Nations health official, the ensuing Bihar polls are a win – win situation. He was once Man Friday for Modi in Gujarat and was the strategist behind the 2014 Lok Sabha election Modi campaigning.

    Kishor trained as a public health expert and left his job in the United Nations in 2011, returning to India from Africa to join a team of young professionals who called themselves Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG). Many in the group were alumni of IITs and IIMs; they put together a wildly successful social media plan to project Mr Modi as the face of good governance for the Gujarat elections in 2012 and then the national election last year.

    Now in n Bihar, he is managing the campaign of CM Nitish Kumar against Modi and BJP. While confirming his new role to the media he had said –
    “Nitish Kumar is one of the most credible politicians and is credited for establishing governance and rule of law in a challenging state like Bihar,” Kishor said in Patna. Kishor also hinted at what the selling points of the campaign for Kumar might include: “His focus and result on improving actual delivery of services especially in social sector is literally unmatched in today’s context.”

    As he did for Modi, Prashant Kishor has set up a body for the Nitish campaign, called I-PAC, the India Political Action Committee. It has hundreds of members, divided across several teams, working like a corporate machine. I-PAC members dress in black, a move darker from the blue kurtas CAG members wore.

    The singularly important factor in winning an election in India is building the “hawa” – the popular perception that this party is likely to win. Prashant Kishor’s method uses data, technology, branding and marketing techniques for hawa-building. Already for the Nitish campaign, there’s “parcha pe charcha” (discussion over pamphlets), 400 trucks with LED monitors and other gizmos are organizing 40,000 village meetings across Bihar. Nitish has launched a “Badh Chala Bihar – 2025” campaign, the subtle message of which is that he has a long-term vision for Bihar’s development.

    On being asked why he changed sides he said  that his affiliation was limited to Modi and not his party. “I was never associated with the BJP. I was working in my private capacity for Modi.”

    Amit Shah vs Prashant Kishor
    Another reason for Prashant breaking away  to join  one of Modi’s most bitter and fierce opponents is to prove a point to Amit Shah and his detractors in the BJP. So he wants  to help Nitish Kumar win Bihar, yes, but also has to score a critical point over Amit Shah. This election is as important for his career path as that of Nitish. Success has many fathers. If Nitish becomes chief minister, Prashant Kishor’s model of electioneering will be seen as indispensable. Moreover, the debate over how much credit Kishor’s Citizens for Accountable Governance should take for the Modi campaign, will tilt in his favour — and away from Amit Shah. Post 2014 elections Shah was heard saying  that the CAG’s work has been exaggerated. Kishor on the other hand felt  he didn’t getting his due in Modi government. He declined a post in the Prime Minister’s office as he felt he deserved better. He and his Citizens for Accountable Governance had hoped to be given a high-profile role in policymaking and implementation in the new government. However, the BJP felt that Kishor had become too big for his boots, and such a role would risk his taking away too much credit for the 2014 victory.

    Amit Shah’s insecurity stemmed  from the way in which Kishor and CAG worked with the Modi campaign. Kishor was so close to the Gujarat chief minister that he lived with Modi in his official residence in Gandhinagar . His body, the CAG, made decisions small and big that BJP leaders and workers had to follow.

    Finally, the battle between Shah and Kishor playing out in Bihar is about more than just personal rivalry. This is a clash of two different models of electioneering: The old-fashioned party loyalist and the professional campaign manager.

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