In the course of July this 12 months, photographs went viral of political strategist Prashant Kishor getting into Rahul Gandhi’s residence in central Delhi.
It was the primary indication that Kishor, thought of the architect of a quantity electoral victories, primarily of regional events, was in talks with India’s most important opposition occasion, making for dizzying headlines.
On the time, sources accustomed to the developments informed The Press Reporter that the July assembly was not the primary between Mr Kishor and the Gandhis, and that either side have been engaged on a association the place “PK”, as he’s identified, wouldn’t function a political marketing consultant, however, in actual fact, formally be a part of the Congress. All this was taking part in out weeks after PK, in an unique interview to The Press Reporter, mentioned that he was retiring as an electoral strategist. So, the truth that he was contemplating becoming a member of politics didn’t appear unviable; in actual fact, it appeared like a pure development from that announcement made on The Press Reporter.
The association that the Congress and PK have been attempting to determine on, The Press Reporter was informed, was to work on ‘one thing larger’ than simply the upcoming state elections, an bold plan to make use of PK’s expertise to revive the faltering fortunes of the Congress within the run-up the 2024 normal election.
After which out of the blue, with out rationalization, issues went chilly.
One rationalization for why lies within the revelation of a former Chief Minister of Goa, Luizinho Faleiro, who crossed over earlier this week from the Congress to the Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) simply months earlier than the coastal state votes for its subsequent authorities. Chatting with The Press Reporter, Mr Faleiro mentioned that it was PK and his group, I-PAC (Indian Political Motion Committee), which had approached him to modify to Mamata Banerjee’s occasion. “In fact, he had approached me. Just some days again,” he mentioned.
At a press convention in Panaji, Mr Faleiro was much more specific. “Consider it or not , I by no means met them (Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee). They’re nice leaders. However I didn’t meet them. I met I-PAC, I met Mr Prashant Kishor of I-PAC. Simply earlier than I took the choice, we had the interplay.”
If Mr Faleiro is to be believed, PK was and helps broaden the political footprint of the TMC in areas the place the Congress has been enervated, even whereas he was in talks with the Congress over reviving its fortunes. This attainable battle of curiosity, some within the Congress say, might have contributed to a sure cooling off in pursuing issues with PK. (Additional proof of the persevering with deep ties between PK and the TMC surfaced when it emerged final week that Prashant Kishor, a local of Bihar, was registered as a voter in Bhabhanipur in West Bengal, the constituency being contested by Mamta Banerjee for election to the state legislature).
PK’s camp, nonetheless , factors out that he had registered as a voter in Bhabhanipur earlier this 12 months earlier than the state election as a preemptive transfer after experiences recommended that the BJP was contemplating a transfer to oust him and his outfit through the ballot interval from West Bengal on grounds that they have been outsiders. PK’s outfit can be meant to be working to spearhead the TMC’s push within the North East; lately, Congress’ Assam MP Sushmita Deb turned one other high-profile chief to affix the TMC.
There’s a belief deficit, a Congress supply informed The Press Reporter.
Sources near PK preserve that this isn’t fairly the case, and that I-PAC’s persevering with work with its different shoppers was mentioned at size in his talks with the Congress management. The rationale for the pause in talks, as per these sources, is sort of solely to do with a disagreement over the timing of PK’s entry into the Congress: whereas the Congress management is eager for him to affix directly, and start work on the approaching meeting elections in February in states together with Uttar Pradesh, PK is adamant that he’ll solely be a part of after these elections. The rationale, it was argued, is that the February elections are too shut at hand, not giving PK sufficient time to make the Congress battle-ready in these states. Prashant Kishor reportedly informed the Congress high brass that he can be totally on board for all of the elections after February, up till and together with the massive Lok Sabha battle in 2024.
The opposite purpose for the attainable standstill within the PK-Congress talks might be reservations of some throughout the Congress over PK’s designation and mandate.
A four-member Congress panel (comprising Priyanka Gandhi Vadra rather than Ahmed Patel, AK Anthony, KC Venugopal and Ambika Soni), meant to advise Sonia Gandhi on political issues, is claimed to have sought the views of a giant part of the Congress’ high management on PK’s entry. Whereas most have been mentioned to be in favour, some leaders are believed to have recommended that PK’s designation and position be confined solely to managing elections.
This, sources near PK preserve, runs opposite to his talks with the Congress management, by which either side reportedly have been in favour of a extra sweeping position for PK, one by which he would have been empowered to intervene in virtually all points of decision-making throughout the occasion.
Whatever the conflicting claims, it seems that for now, what was a possible headline-making partnership between India’s beleaguered Grand Outdated Celebration and a rising political upstart, has come to a standstill.
(Arvind Gunasekar is a senior correspondent with The Press Reporter.)
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