For the first time, Mamata Banerjee, who single-handedly uprooted the 34-year-long Left rule in 2011, has sought the assistance of an expert to strategise her poll campaign and this move came after Trinamool Congress lost half of its ground in West Bengal to BJP in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. TMC is trying to regain its foothold in the state after its dismal performance by signing a pact with poll strategist Prashant Kishor for the upcoming state assembly elections scheduled for 2021.
However, the decision by Kishor, also the vice-president of JD(U), to help Mamata get her grip back in the state has not gone well for the party president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The upset chief on Saturday said that Kishor will have to explain his position on the agreement with TMC in JD(U) national executive meeting on Sunday.
Prashant Kishor, a poll strategist, and his company I-PAC work with the political parties to plan out their election campaign. The latest success in Kishor’s kitty is turning around the fortunes of YSR Congress party in the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls and defeat of Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Prashant was appointed as special advisor to Jagan in May 2017. The YSR Congress won all 25 Lok Sabha seats and over 150 out of 175 assembly seats in the Andhra Pradesh assembly polls and created a big history in local politics.
However, Nitish tried to show his faith on Kishor while talking to TNN and said that although I-PAC has signed an agreement with TMC, its ‘margdarshak‘ (Pathfinder) Prashant Kishor hasn’t signed any. He also said that JD(U) has nothing to do with this but Kishor will have to explain his stand to the party. When he was asked about party’s double-thinking on Kishor especially when he was hardly present in the campaigning for JD(U) and was there beside Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra to guide his poll prospects, Nitish told, “JD (U), which is a workers’ party, is not dependent on any one person or leader.”
Speaking to ANI, Kumar said that no complaint was filed against Kishor till now. “We have not received any complaint against Prashant Kishor. If we get a complaint, we will take a decision accordingly,” the Bihar Chief Minister said.
Kishor and his organisation I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee) came into the limelight in 2014 when it handled the campaign of Narendra Modi. After a year, he had also guided the 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. In September 2018, Kishor was appointed as JD(U)’s national vice-president.
BJP’s remarkable victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls has given the party and its leadership an even stronger ground and the upcoming state assembly polls will be a tough challenge for the regional parties. The saffron party is also preparing to come to the power in states like West Bengal, where BJP’s progress from 2 seats in 2014 LS polls to 18 in 2019 is indeed a bright jump.
To know whether Prashant Kishor-Mamata Banerjee duo will be able to abate BJP juggernaut, Afternoon Voice spoke to TMC MP Sajda Ahmed. She said, “If Prashant Kishor is working for the Trinamool Congress, then … ” Here’s the complete version of the story.
Moreover, looking at the current political situation, political experts believe that Prashant Kishor’s decision to work with Mamata Banerjee for West Bengal polls may complicate his ties with JD(U) and BJP. The Hindu even stated sources from JD(U) saying Kishor’s days in the party are nearing an end and he might walk out of the party soon.
“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 Jagan Mohan Reddy, which swept to power in Andhra Pradesh,” Nitish Kumar further added.
In 2013, Kishor created Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG), a media and publicity company in preparation for the May 2014 general election of India. He was credited with formulating an innovative marketing and advertising campaign for Narendra Modi that includes the Chai pe Charcha discussions, 3D rallies, Run for Unity, Manthan, and social media programmes. Later, Kishor parted ways with Modi, converted the (CAG) into a specialist policy outfit, Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC).
In 2015, Kishor and other CAG members came together as I-PAC to work with Nitish Kumar, in a bid to win a third term as Chief Minister of Bihar in Assembly Elections. I-PAC designed a cycle carrying the message of the CM’s seven commitments, with the slogan ‘Nitish ke Nishchay: Vikas ki guarantee’ (Nitish’s vow: development guaranteed) and it is believed that his strategies worked miracle for the party. And the victory led Nitish to name Kishor as his advisor for planning and programme implementation, with a brief look for ways to implement the seven-point agenda that was promised during Kumar’s election campaign.
Congress hired Kishor in 2016 for the Punjab Assembly Elections in 2017; Kishor strategised Amarinder Singh’s poll campaign in Punjab leading him to power at a time when Congress had lost two consecutive Assembly elections.
In 2016, Congress again employed Kishor for the 2017 UP Elections. However, Kishor couldn’t help Congress make it way through this time as BJP won more than 300+ seats and Congress could only manage 7 seats.