Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday distanced his party from Prashant Kishor's decision to offer services as a poll strategist to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying the Janata Dal (United) has nothing to do with it.
"Kishor's activities in West Bengal are not in his capacity as a JD(U) leader," said Kumar, adding that Kishor has been in touch with various parties as head of an organisation that advises them on their poll strategies.
Kumar's remarks came after the decision by Kishor, a JD(U) vice president, to work with Banerjee's Trinamool Congress for the 2021 Assembly polls raised eyebrows. The TMC is locked in a fierce electoral battle with the BJP, a JDU ally, in Bengal.
Though Kumar evaded a direct reply on whether the JD(U) will seek an explanation, he expressed hope that Kishor will be able to answers all the questions at the party's national executive meet on Sunday.
"Kishor joined our party in September last year and we assigned him an important role. But he also heads an organisation that specialises in devising poll strategies for political parties. In that capacity, he has been in touch with various political parties. The JD(U) has nothing to do with it," Kumar said, responding to queries at the JD(U) state headquarters after launching a nationwide membership drive aimed at expanding the party base.
"We have nothing to do with his activities in West Bengal. We do not even know what type of services his company will be providing in the neighbouring state. But we understand this episode has given rise to many misgivings in the media unlike in the past when he similarly offered professional help to the YSR Congress headed by Jaganmohan Reddy, which swept to power in Andhra Pradesh," he added.
"However, these are matters on which Kishor himself can shed some light. He will be here on Sunday when the party's national executive will meet. We hope he will come up with an explanation that answers all the questions," Kumar said.
Responding to a query, Kumar said, "I have seen no objections from the BJP on this matter. And even if the BJP has any problem, it is not going to be with our party as Kishor's activities in West Bengal are not in his capacity as a JD(U) leader."
When asked if his party will seek an explanation from Kishor, Kumar said, "These things are not to be stated in public."
Replying to a query on Banerjee's refusal to attend the upcoming meeting of Niti Aayog in New Delhi on June 15, Kumar said, "I will be attending the meeting. Apparently she has sent copies of her letter to the PM to chief ministers (also) as I am in receipt of one."
"But I am of the view Niti Ayog is a platform where states can highlight their specific needs and demands. She is entitled to her opinions. I have nothing to do with that though," he added.
Kishor's organisation I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee) came into the limelight in 2014 when it handled the campaign of Narendra Modi.
A year later, Kishor worked as a poll strategist for the 'mahagathbandhan'(grand alliance) in Bihar comprising the JD(U), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, before moving base to Punjab and Uttar Pradesh where he was actively engaged with the campaign of the Congress.
Kishor met Banerjee in Kolkata earlier this week and the two are understood to have agreed that I-PAC will provide professional assistance to the TMC which conceded plenty of ground to the BJP in the recent general elections.