What Prashant Kishor's Recent Interview Tells Us About His Possible Plans

What Prashant Kishor's Recent Interview Tells Us About His Possible Plans

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 17, 2022 04:37 PM +05:30 IST
What Prashant Kishor's Recent Interview Tells Us About His Possible Plans Prashant Kishor (Facebook)
Snapshot
  • Perhaps sensing the opposition’s weak stomach for a fight, Kishor’s main plea seems to have been for opposition parties to keep the fight going nationally along with a message to the Congress signifying that his earlier stance has changed.

    Kishor, said to nurse political ambitions of his own, clearly sees his own future linked to existence of a viable national alternative formation to the BJP and his failure in getting Mamata to occupy that space has perhaps forced him to reconsider his relationship with the Congress.

Political consultants and strategists have mushroomed across India post 2014. While their actual impact on electoral results can be debated, one man who has made a name for himself in the field is Prashant Kishor - formerly part of then-Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s campaign team and now the head of India’s best known political consulting organisation, I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee).

Those following Kishor’s career would know that post 2014, he has worked as a strategist, almost exclusively, for formations that are antagonistic to the Prime Minister and the BJP. He has also, in many public forums, announced that his values are more compatible with those of the Congress and other opposition forces than the BJP.

After having worked with the TMC and the DMK in 2022, Kishor announced that he was quitting the consulting space for good - presumably wanting to leave on a high. Rumours of him joining the Congress as its national strategist were also abound in the political circles at the time.

Subsequently, it was learnt that the arrangement had fallen through and that I-PAC would be leading TMC’s charge in Goa and other states - presumably to transform Mamata Banerjee into a national figure and a contender for Prime Minister-ship.

This was also the time that Kishor went to town claiming that BJP had become the dominant force in national politics and also, more importantly, that the Congress (and its current leadership) do not have the capability to surmount a challenge by themselves and should consider playing a supporting role to rising regional players like his then-client, Mamata Banerjee.

All of this changed during the course of the TMC’s buffoonish campaign in Goa - one which probably accomplished nothing other than an outflow from the TMC’s coffers. Then, TMC and I-PAC were also involved in a fairly public spat post which the professional relationship between both entities is said to have been on rocks.

Kishor, as he had done with the JD(U), Shiv Sena, DMK etc earlier, is said to have moved on quickly to other clients in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

It is in such a scenario that Kishor’s claims post the results of five states last week have raised eyebrows in political circles. Kishor, first with a tweet and then in a laborious interview on a leading TV channel, reneged on his earlier stance and declared that:

  • 2022 state election results should not be seen as one which makes the General Elections of 2024 a foregone conclusion;

  • The Congress is the party which is best placed to mount a challenge to the BJP; and most importantly,

  • That taking on the BJP in 2024 will require two years of narrative build.

Those political watchers who may want to read the tea leaves in Kishor’s statements would be advised to first consider the following:

  • Kishor’s image as a political strategist has been one which has been carefully built over the years by strategic picking of winning horses and clever media plugs. What remains under the cover is the fact that most of the campaigns won by I-PAC have been ones where their clients have been in the driver's seat even before Kishor’s entry. And that I-PAC has had a tendency to take credit for these wins in the media and subsequently, fray relationships across the client organisation.

  • None of I-PAC’s current clients have the capability to take the BJP on nationally. And giving into the narrative that a BJP win in 2024 is very likely will only result in opposition parties going on the defensive and as a consequence, seeing little use in employing organizations like I-PAC in a lost cause - the funds could rather be saved for future use under more favourable conditions.

  • Kishor, said to nurse political ambitions of his own, clearly sees his own future linked to existence of a viable national alternative formation to the BJP and his failure in getting Mamata to occupy that space has perhaps forced him to reconsider his relationship with the Congress.

Here is also where his suggestion on the building of a two-year narrative comes into the picture. To illustrate his point, he chastised Akhilesh Yadav for being active only during the last two months of his campaign while holding up the example of his work with Banerjee as a contrast. The fact that the national elections are two years away cannot be coincidence.

Perhaps sensing the opposition’s weak stomach for a fight, Kishor’s main plea seems to have been for opposition parties to keep the fight going nationally along with a message to the Congress signifying that his earlier stance has changed and, given time, he sees himself as the man to design the Congress-led opposition’s charge against the BJP.

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