Prashant Kishor Likely To Part Ways With Trinamool As Resentment Against Him Peaks Within The Party And Ties With Mamata Banerjee Sour

Prashant Kishor Likely To Part Ways With Trinamool As Resentment Against Him Peaks Within The Party And Ties With Mamata Banerjee Sour

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Feb 7, 2022 01:29 PM +05:30 IST
Prashant Kishor Likely To Part Ways With Trinamool As Resentment Against Him Peaks Within The Party And Ties With Mamata Banerjee SourTrinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee and Prashant Kishor.
  • Reports in the Bengali media mention that Prashant Kishor sent a text message to Mamata Banerjee stating that he does not want to work for the Trinamool in Bengal, Meghalaya and Odisha.

    Banerjee replied with a terse ‘thank you’.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is extremely unhappy with her hired political strategist Prashant Kishor and his Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) and the two are most likely to part ways very soon.

Resentment against Kishor, popularly called by his initials ‘PK’, has been brewing within the Trinamool for a long time and has peaked recently. Many bureaucrats have also complained against I-PAC and its interference in administrative affairs to Mamata Banerjee.

Matters came to a head last week with unprecedented unrest breaking out within the party over selection of candidates for elections to 108 civic bodies all over the state slated for February 27.

The award of party tickets to candidates recommended by I-PAC triggered deep resentment and even violent protests last week in many parts of the state, especially south Bengal which is considered to be Trinamool’s bastion.

Trinamool ticket aspirants who were denied tickets not only staged demonstrations, even violent ones, but also attacked and ransacked party offices. Some went over to rival parties along with their supporters.

The I-PAC, according to senior party leaders, overstepped its brief at a couple of places by making public the Trinamool list of candidates. That triggered a storm of protests, and the Trinamool top leadership had to step in and declare that the lists were not official.

The I-PAC was then sternly warned against overstepping its brief and taking any unilateral action on party affairs. That was not the first warning that I-PAC had received; party insiders say that Mamata Banerjee had issued similar warnings to PK and his team a few times in the past.

Reports of growing differences between the Trinamool chief and PK, and Mamata Banerjee’s increasing disillusionment with I-PAC, started surfacing after Banerjee rejected all recommendations on selection of candidates for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls in December last year.

The I-PAC had recommended fielding of fresh faces in many of the KMC’s 144 wards and denial of tickets to many Trinamool veterans. Banerjee completely disregarded the I-PAC’s recommendations.

When some senior I-PAC executives raised the matter with the Trinamool leadership, they were curtly told that their job is to recommend, and it is up to the party to accept or reject those. Mamata Banerjee, it is learnt, said so in as many words to PK when he reportedly complained that his advice and I-PAC’s suggestions were being disregarded.

While the Trinamool leadership junked the I-PAC’s suggestions on awarding tickets for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections late last year, many of the recommendations by PK’s team for the next round of civic polls were accepted.

This, Trinamool insiders told Swarajya, happened due to pressure from Abhishek Banerjee who is close to PK. Mamata Banerjee, busy with a lot of administrative work, left the conduct of the polls to the 108 civic bodies mainly to her nephew.

“Our party chief did not get involved with the forthcoming civic polls due to her preoccupation with other important affairs and left it to Abhishek Banerjee to oversee preparations for the polls. That’s because winning all these 108 municipalities comfortably is a foregone conclusion and after the overwhelming victory in the KMC elections (the Trinamool bagged 134 of the 144 wards) that came after the landslide win in the Assembly elections, our party doesn’t have to prove its predominance in Bengal,” said a senior party leader who did not want to be named.

Abhishek Banerjee, who had brought in PK as the party’s political strategist after the Trinamool lost a lot of ground to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, allowed I-PAC to have a major say in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming civic polls and in framing the strategy for the elections.

Taken aback by the widespread protests by her party workers and junior leaders against candidate selection, Mamata Banerjee has been forced to step in. She has let her anger with the I-PAC be known.

Senior Trinamool leaders have also long resented the I-PAC’s interference in party affairs. This interference, they feel, has often led to their marginalisation. That’s why there has been a strong pushback against the I-PAC by senior party leaders.

Before the last Assembly elections, the I-PAC’s growing interference in party affairs had led to severe resentment among many leaders of the Trinamool. Quite a number of them had, fearing that they would not get party tickets because the I-PAC had reported anti-incumbency against them in their respective constituencies, joined the BJP.

The Trinamool’s victory in the Assembly elections had a totally unexpected outcome for the I-PAC. Far from cementing its ties with the Trinamool, the party leadership felt that it did not really need the I-PAC to win elections in Bengal.

Top party leaders who have long resented PK’s and I-PAC’s overwhelming influence started telling Mamata Banerjee that while the I-PAC had only crafted the party’s campaign pitch, the elections were won wholly because of Banerjee’s appeal and popularity among the masses.

Banerjee also started getting irritated with the frequent and often unsolicited advice and recommendations of I-PAC even in administrative affairs. The I-PAC's supervision of the functioning and performance of bureaucrats, especially at the district level, is well-known.

Serving and retired bureaucrats who are close to Mamata Banerjee told her that I-PAC’s supervisory role over the state administration and its interference in administrative affairs is fraught with dangerous consequences.

This resentment within the ranks of the Trinamool as well as the bureaucracy that has been building up for well over one year has peaked of late. Mamata Banerjee, it is learnt, has decided to go along with her trusted lieutenants within the party and the state administration and had made up her mind recently to put PK and his I-PAC in their place.

Banerjee was especially sore over PK’s bid to claim credit for the defections from the Congress to the Trinamool in Meghalaya and Goa, and the I-PAC’s flawed strategies that led to the Trinamool’s humiliating performance in the civic polls in Tripura in November last year. The Trinamool had won just one of the 222 seats across 14 civic bodies where elections were held.

In Goa, too, the strategy crafted by the I-PAC and its chief seem to have come unstuck. Despite the rosy projections by team PK about the Trinamool’s prospects in that tiny coastal state, the top Trinamool leadership apprehends that the party may face embarrassment there.

Mamata Banerjee, thus, reportedly feels that the I-PAC has been given too much importance and PK is no longer of much use for the party. She is said to have told her close aides in the party that the I-PAC has exceeded its brief and has become too big for its boots.

According to this report in the most widely-circulated Bengali daily, PK sent a text message to Mamata Banerjee stating that he does not want to work for the Trinamool in Bengal, Meghalaya and Odisha. Banerjee replied with a terse ‘thank you’.

PK did not mention Goa in his message because his involvement on behalf of the Trinamool in that state will end with the declaration of results on March 10.

After sending the cryptic reply to PK, Mamata Banerjee reportedly told her close lieutenants that PK had misled her and the party on many occasions, and that had resulted in a huge drain from the party’s coffers. She also told them that she did not need PK and I-PAC to win elections in the past, and will not require them in future as well.

Also read:

-How Mamata Banerjee has allowed Prashant Kishor’s firm to grow into an extra-constitutional entity in Bengal

-Why is Prashant Kishor facing a pushback within Trinamool again?

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.