GAYA/PATNA: Former minister and Gaya town MLA Prem Kumar is no longer the proverbial dark horse in the run for BJP aspirants for the top job in the state. By all indications, Prem figures in the short list of BJP potential CMs. Earlier regarded as a prodigy of the somewhat flamboyant Sushil Kumar Modi, Prem Kumar deliberately and consciously cultivated his own independent image following the split between BJP and Nitish on the Narendra Modi issue, a couple of years back.
Earlier, Prem used to be Junior Modi’s shadow during the somewhat frequent visits of the former Dy CM to Gaya and adjoining areas. Subsequently on nearly half a dozen occasions, Prem was not seen anywhere during the much publicised visits of Sushil Modi. After a long time, the two were seen together in Gaya as promotion of the one year old Narendra Modi rule necessitated togetherness of the two. But the togetherness was more optical than real, say Magadh watchers.
The manner in which Prem Kumar reacted to Nand Kishor Yadava’s elevation as leader of the opposition in 2013, was uncharacteristic of Prem, who all through maintained a low profile. The Gaya town MLA has never looked back after that. Besides marketing himself as a potential CM on the social networking sites, Prem has never missed an opportunity to flaunt his seniority both to Nand Kishor and Sushil in the Bihar assembly.
Prem is senior by five years to both Junior Modi and Nand Kishor in the Bihar assembly. Whereas Prem Kumar entered the Bihar assembly way back in 1990 and has never lost an election and has consistently been strengthening his position as reflected in victory margins, both Sushil and Nand Kishor made their electoral debut five years later.
But seniority, in BJP is no longer an advantage, say BJP insiders citing the plight of the likes of Advani and Joshi and elevation of Thakkar, a first time MLA, as the Haryana CM.
Asked about his chances of getting the top job, a somewhat confident Prem gave the standard reply regarding the supremacy of party leadership in such matters but dropped enough hints that he was very much in the race.
Sources in the BJP say that besides Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi, Prem Kumar’s name was under serious consideration for the top job. Unlike his other too rivals, the social back ground favours Prem, as the Gaya town MLA comes from the electorally significant EBC section.
BJP insiders also say that unlike Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi, Prem, has fewer enemies within the party. A powerful lobby within the BJP led by CP Thakur is also likely to settle for Kumar if someone else from the CP Thakur camp is not in a position to make it to the 1 Anne Marg. Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi will cancel each other out, thereby making an opening for Kumar confided a Kumar supporters in the party.