Thank you: Prashant Kishor, Pavan Varma’s goodbye to Nitish

The JD(U) expelled the two leaders on Wednesday saying they worked against the party’s decisions

Prashant Kishor and Pavan Varma
The two expelled leaders have been vocal against the party’s stand on the new citizenship law and NRC | PTI File

Bringing the curtains down on the rift between the top leadership in Janata Dal (United), Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday (January 29) expelled the party’s vice president Prashant Kishor and national general secretary Pavan Varma. The two leaders, however, did not retort but bade Kumar goodbye with a “thank you” message.

Bitter differences between party chief Kumar and Kishor had come to the fore a few weeks ago, but the chief minister’s silence on the issue made it appear as if he was shielding his party’s number two. The situation intensified on Tuesday with Kumar saying Kishor and Varma were free to leave the party if they want.

The two expelled leaders have been vocal against the party’s stand on Modi’s government’s new citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and Varma had even written an open letter questioning Kumar over his ideology. Wednesday’s development finally capped the tensions that had put the NDA coalition on a brink in Bihar.

In a tweet soon after his expulsion, Kishor said, “Thank you Nitish Kumar. My best wishes to you to retain the chair of Chief Minister of Bihar. God bless you.” Varma said, “Thank you Nitish Kumar ji for freeing me from my increasingly untenable position of defending you and your policies. I wish you well in your ambition of being CM of Bihar at any cost.”

While expelling Kishor, the party accused him of using “insulting” words against Kumar as well as not adhering to party discipline and abusing “respect” given to him by the JD(U) chief. Announcing the expulsion of the two, JD(U)’s chief general secretary KC Tyagi said “loyalty to party’s discipline, decision and leadership is the organisation’s basic mantra.”

Also read | After countless U-turns, Nitish finds himself alone in his party

Referring to them, Tyagi said their conduct in the recent past has made it clear they don’t want to abide by the “party’s discipline and worked against its decisions and functioning”. What followed was a quick dig with Kishor’s “best wishes” and Varma wishing the party chief well in his “ambition of being chief minister of Bihar at any cost”.

The expulsion came a day after the rift between Kumar and Kishor came out in open with the Bihar chief minister saying that the poll strategist was inducted in the party at the prodding of Union Home Minister and former BJP president Amit Shah, a remark which received a sharp retort from Kishor.

“What a fall for you to lie about how and why you made me join JD(U)! Poor attempt on your part to try and make my colour same as yours! And if you are telling the truth who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by Amit Shah,” Kishor had tweeted.

Hitting back, the JD(U) statement said, “It is imperative that Kishor be removed from the party so that he doesn’t fall any lower.” It also said that both have been acting against its decisions and functioning which, it added, amounted to breach of discipline. JD(U) leaders said Kishor’s continuance in the party had become untenable after his tweet on Tuesday.

The JD(U) said Kishor made a number of “controversial” statements in the recent months, a reference to his digs at Shah and his frequent criticism of CAA and asking opposition parties to unite against it even though the JD(U) had backed it in Parliament. Kishor had, however, refrained from directly targeting Kumar before his stinging attack on him on Tuesday.

Also read | Nitish brushes aside Pavan Varma’s take on JD(U) alliance with BJP

Varma, the JD(U) said, received more respect from Kumar than he “deserved” but he instead of appreciating it thought it was the party’s compulsion. Referring to his open letters in which he often questioned Kumar’s ideology, the JD(U) said it runs with collective responsibility but some people suffer from the “delusion” that their ideas can run it.

With both leaders critical of the Modi government’s citizenship measures, their removal from the JD(U) will please the BJP, which has already announced their alliance will fight under Kumar’s leadership in the Bihar assembly polls slated for later this year. The two allies have also entered a seat-sharing deal for the upcoming polls in Delhi.

Their expulsion will be seen as a victory for its seasoned hands like Lalan Singh and RCP Singh who had not taken kindly to the rise of Kishor in the party and believed that his and Varma’s outspoken views ill-served its interests.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also read | JD(U) split wide open: Kishor-Nitish spat draws in Amit Shah reference

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