Prashant Kishor’s latest truth bombshell and what it means
The Congress-Prashant Kishor slugfest appears to be poll-centric and unlikely to affect the ties between the political strategist ace and the Gandhi trio – Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.
Kishor is not registered statements made in Goa, including a slight blow to Rahul Gandhi, are seen by many as a sign of a breakdown in ties between Congress and Kishor. But sources close to Prashant Kishor aka PK insist the personal and political equations between him and the Gandhi are not going to change.
There are several reasons for this. First, the words spoken in Goa were unofficial. Second, PK is not in Congress where he can be judged by party discipline or the “Laxman Rekha” of decorum. Third, by his own admission, the remarks he made in Goa were not something that he did not share with the Gandhi.
Fourth, he is known to be brutally candid. In the midst of the Bengal polls, his remarks reported to the “Clubhouse” had taken a controversial turn when the BJP IT Cell Chief Amit Malviya released audio clip of PK saying: “PM Modi, Mamata equally popular” and “Prime Minister Modi has a cult around him across the country”. Still excited, Malviya even exclaimed: “The election of TMC has just been ruined!” However, on May 2, 2021, PK’s prophecy that the BJP would not cross the 100-seat mark in the Bengal assembly polls came true. PK’s past as Narendra Modi’s associate at Mamata Banerjee is not withheld from anyone in Congress.
Much like Malviya, head of the congressional IT cell, Rohan Gupta was quick to attack PK’s claim that the BJP will continue to be a central force in national politics for decades to come.
Gupta, getting a little personal, wrote in Hindi: “BJP ke chhipe chehron ka pardafash jaari. Pahle Congress ke bina Vipaksh Naheen. Phir Congress mein pad ki guhaar, guhaar barkhast. Ant mein- Vapas BJP ki Charanvandana. Nishkarsh-ek aur bhakt ka mukhauta utra ” [roughly translated the hidden face of the BJP stands exposed. First a claim was made that without Congress, there can ot be an opposition front, then talk of getting a post in the Congress. The offer was denied. In the end, effort to cajole the BJP. Conclusion: another bhakt stands exposed].
– Rohan Gupta (@rohanrgupta) 28 October 2021
While Gupta, himself said to be on an unstable wicket in Congress, avoided naming Kishor, the inclusion of PK’s photo in his tweet left nothing to the imagination. In Congress, Gupta was seen as Ahmed Patel’s associate and after Patel’s disappearance in November 2020, the social media manager is said to be vulnerable and without a powerful patron.[s] with the exception of the Secretary General of AICC, KC Venugopal.
A quick recap of the links between Congress and the KP is needed to contextualize the current slugfest. In 2016-17, PK, as a poll strategist, aided the congressional campaign in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. He had used “Delhi-Mumbai” to consolidate the prospects of the big old party.
Delhi was an aphorism for Sheila Dikshit who was meant to be projected as the chief ministerial face of Congress for UP. The benchmark in Mumbai was actor Raj Babbar who headed the Uttar Pradesh Congressional Unit. PK had advised Rahul to keep the khat [cots or charpoys] panchayat in UP. It was another matter that shortly after Rahul’s speech in Deoria ended, many farmers were seen picking up the cots and running away.
The 2017 elections in Uttar Pradesh were a disaster for Congress, even though it struck a pre-election alliance with the Samajwadi party, winning just seven of the 403 assembly seats.
Raj Babbar, then the Congressman of Uttar Pradesh, then described poll strategist Prashant Kishor as “a sound recorder”. Babbar had said, “He (Kishor) is just a sound recordist. When the pitch of the voice goes up or down, he adjusts it. He is not my leader: my leader is Rahul Gandhi “, commented the Bollywood actor turned politician.
Throughout 2020, PK reportedly had a series of meetings with Acting Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka, apparently to give the big old party a boost. The talks reportedly revolved around preparations for the 2024 elections in Lok Sabha and overhauling the organization of Congress, institutionalizing the ticket distribution system, electoral alliances, fundraising, etc. This led to a long period of speculation about the official membership of PK. the Congress. But as India Today reported on October 9, the two sides had “mutually agreed” to postpone the entry of PK until the end of the assembly ballots in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur.
Since then, some pissed off party leaders, members of the AICC bureau and chief ministers of party-led states have taken bizarre punches against the poll strategist. One section of Congress was unhappy with the way the Trinamool Congress expanded its base at the expense of Congress leaders in Goa, Assam, etc.
Congressional insiders say that despite such a turbulent history, breakups and bad blood, top Congressional leaders and the KP have not formally moved away from each other. Would March 2022 see PK enter Congress despite Rohan Gupta and Raj Babbar?
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