Post Congress fiasco, where will Prashant Kishor go to next?

Kingshuk Nag

Prashant Kishor better known as PK made his appearance in the Indian political firmament circa 2010. A Bihari, a bhumihar, PK was working for an UN agency in West Africa before he showed up in Gandhinagar. Presumably he met Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat and impressed on him his self learnt expertise on how to contest elections successfully.

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Modi found the young man useful and asked him to work for him. Not only this, Modi gave him an office that was located in the residential complex of the chief minister. In other words, Modi kept him insulated from his party and other agencies.

PK was a useful man but quite opinionated. He studied the election scene quite well and was adept at looking at the micro scene, with caste and sub caste combinations. The stories doing the round suggest that PK, a little later got in conflict of sorts with Amit Shah who was the home minister of Gujarat in those days.

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At that point Modi got rid of PK, presumably because he realized that it was difficult to take the services of both Amit Shah and PK. Thus, PK left the Modi camp and Gandhinagar. At this time PK was little known and was not recognized in the media circles.

Thereafter PK has been independent but his experience with Modi has stood him in good stead. Political parties now under a siege from the BJP, feel that Modi’s former aide can give them effective advice. However many are a little doubtful about the advice they will get: they aver that PK could still be in the Modi camp; so taking advice from him may not be a wise thing to do. In fact he could be passing back useful information, is the feeling that some carry.

Prashant Kishor’s advice to Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee however sought and got advice from PK in the assembly last elections held late last year. The TMC was arraigned against BJP which was making a herculean effort to enter West Bengal. In the general election in 2019, the BJP had done well; thus TMC could take nothing for granted. But the BJP failed woefully.

Part of the credit for this should go to PK, although after the elections Mamata got the impression that PK has a tendency to poke his nut into everything unnecessarily. For instance he is believed to have advised her to deny a ticket to her finance minister Amit Mitra. She did as advised but after the elections inducted Mitra once again as her finance minister! PK’s advice to Mamata to enter Goa also proved wrong because TMC drew a blank in the elections.

PK is now in the news because of his attempts to enter the Congress. From whatever information is floating around it seems that PK told the Congress bosses that he can advise the party if he is given a ‘free hand’. He also apparently ‘hinted’ that he would like to strengthen the party around the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi. The Congress is an antique party and the wide ranging reforms that PK was keen to initiate did not find favor with the Congress leadership.

Congress party teaming with various party leaders

For those uninitiated the Congress party is teeming with various vested interests and dozens of leaders none of whom are keen to change things. In these circumstances, PK seems to be an agent who wants revolutionary changes and this is unacceptable to the Congress leaders. Thus PK in spite of trying hard to get into Congress, failed. The reasons cited were different.

PK has a tie up with Jagan’s YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and has just concluded a tie up with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) for Telangana. Now TRS and Congress are arraigned against each other in Telangana. How can PK advise both the rivals, is the issue?

PK did not comment on this but analysts aver that he has a different game plan. He obviously thinks that only a party like Congress (that has an all India presence) can take on the BJP; and this can take place only after the Congress is strengthened first.

What’s Next?

One of the ways in which this can be done is to catalyze an alliance between Congress and regional parties like TRS and the YSR Congress and many others across the nation. This would be a mega alliance that can challenge the BJP.

On paper this looks like a great idea to put BJP on the mat but the million dollar question is whether such an alliance can be effected. Other than moves by BJP to prevent such an alliance from taking shape, the small regional parties are headed by leaders who have supersized egos. They would not enter into an alliance and give up their freedom easily.

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