JD(U) vice president Prashant Kishor's meeting with Patna University Vice Chancellor has raised eyebrows with ally BJP as well as adversaries accusing him of meddling in the students union elections, even as he attacked the RSS' student wing ABVP after his vehicle was vandalised allegedly by students outside the VC's residence.
Kishor, a poll strategist-turned-politician who was inducted into the party by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in September and catapulted to the top post within a few weeks, said he was unhurt in the Monday night incident but targeted the ABVP, saying it can't get rid of its nervousness over possible defeat in the students union polls by throwing stones at his car.
Chhatra JD(U), students wing of Kishor's party, is contesting the PUSU elections, for which voting is scheduled on Wednesday.
The BJP, meanwhile, lodged a protest with Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon, who is also the Chancellor of all state universities, and demanded that he either sack the VC or stop the election process with immediate effect. It also protested the detention of ABVP activists in connection with the attack on Kishor's vehicle
The JD(U), however, jumped to Kishor's defence, saying he had gone to the VC's residence along with a relative who was attending a conference on disaster management there.
All the current top leaders of Bihar including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Union minister Ravishankar Prasad have their roots in the Patna University politics.
On Monday night, Kishor visited the residence of the Vice Chancellor, leading to angry protests outside by supporters of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an affiliate of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS), students wing of the Aam Aadmi Party.
As Kishor emerged from the VC's residence, the agitated students pelted stones on his vehicle, breaking its window panes. Police resorted to a lathicharge and rounded up a number of agitators who were lodged at the Pirbahore police station.
A BJP delegation headed by Bankipore MLA and state Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Nitin Nabin rushed to Raj Bhavan in the night itself and registered a protest before the Governor. This was followed by a five-hour dharna on Tuesday by Nabin and other BJP leaders including MLAs Sanjiv Chaurasia and Arun Sinha, which ended only after all the ABVP detainees were released from custody.
BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand posted tweets accusing "some political cartoons" of making the PUSU polls a prestige issue. He urged the Governor to either sack the VC or stop the election process with immediate effect.
The AAP's local unit also staged a demonstration at the Kargil Chowk, where its members set afire effigies of the Chief Minister and Kishor. They accused the JD(U) leaders of trying to influence the outcome of PUSU polls in collusion with the VC
As the controversy raged, the Vice Chancellor, Rash Bihari Prasad Singh, issued a press release urging students not to be swayed by "rumours".
"I am fully committed to holding free and fair polls. I appeal to students to come out to vote in largest possible numbers and do not get swayed by rumours," he said.
However, detractors of the Chief Minister, who is also the national president of the JD(U), trained their guns on the ruling party.
Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha, who shares an uneasy relationship with Nitish Kumar, came out with a flurry of mocking tweets, reminding the Chief Minister that he had been a student leader of the university and asking whether he thought winning the PUSU polls was going to help him realize his Prime Ministerial ambitions.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: "Nitish Kumar is unabashedly muddying his hands in University politics, overlooking ethics and misusing CM residence and state machinery to bully rival student wings".
Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra, once a firebrand students leader, told PTI, "Kishor seems to be hell bent upon using PUSU polls as an opportunity to boost the prospects of his party. We wonder in what capacity he had gone to meet the VC. Under the current circumstances, free and fair polls are impossible and the same must be deferred".
After the incident, Kishor tweeted, "The news about my injury is false. I'm fine, thanks for the concern. @ABVPVoice u need to do better than let few hooligans & antisocial elements. The nervousness due to possible defeat in Patna University Students Union Polls won't be lessened by throwing stones at my vehicles."
The social media remained abuzz with posts on the controversy with the former poll strategist being trolled and hashtags like #ShamePKShame, #BhagPKBhag and #ArrestPK going viral.
Kishor was credited with ensuring the victory of the "Grand Alliance', comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress, against the BJP-led NDA in the 2015 Assembly polls. The JD(U), however, returned to the National Democratic Alliance last year.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)