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Explained: Why Prashant Kishor Refused To Join Congress

Prashant Kishor was reportedly keen to join Congress and had even given presentation to the party. What exactly went wrong in the last stage? Why did Prashant Kishor reject Sonia Gandhi's offer? There are many factors which may have influenced Prashant Kishor to decline Congress's offer.

Updated: April 26, 2022 11:28 PM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Snigdha Choudhury

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New Delhi: After much speculation, poll strategist Prashant Kishor turned down the offer to join Congress. In a tweet, Prashant Kishor on Tuesday confirmed that he declined the “generous offer” of Congress while stressing that the Sonia Gandhi-led party needs “leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems”.

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“I declined the generous offer of #congress to join the party as part of the EAG & take responsibility for the elections. In my humble opinion, more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems through transformational reforms,” Prashant Kishor tweeted.

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Prashant Kishor was offered by Congress to be a part of the party’s empowered action group for the 2024 general elections. The Congress was hoping to bank on Prashant Kishor for reviving the party in the 2022 Lok Sabha Elections.

During his association with Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), Prashant Kishor had earlier worked with Congress and crafted poll campaign for the party in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

What Congress said

The Congress officially announced that Prashant Kishor will not be working for the party and he had declined to be part of the empowered action group for the 2024 general elections. The declaration came a day after Sonia Gandhi had announced the constitution of the group.

In a tweet, Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala said: “Following a presentation and discussion with Prashant Kishor, the Congress President has constituted a Empowered Action Group 2024 & invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility. He declined. We appreciate his efforts & suggestion given to party.”

“Congress President Sonia Gandhi received a report from the eight-member group on April 21. Today she discussed the report with the group. Based on the discussions, the Congress President has decided to constitute an Empowered Action Group for 2024 in order to address the political challenges ahead,” the party had said in an official statement on Monday .

Surjewala, who did not want to comment on the members of the group, said: “But as I have said, the Empowered Action Group will strategise for the 2024 general elections.”

Why Prashant Kishor declined Congress offer

Prashant Kishor was reportedly keen to join Congress and had even given presentation to the party. The top leadership of Congress have held several discussions with Prashant Kishor to join the party. What exactly went wrong in the last stage? Why did Prashant Kishor reject Sonia Gandhi’s offer? The answer lies in its details and it is hard to pinpoint at any single reason as to why Prashant Kishor said no to Congress.

A reason which may have impacted Prashant Kishor not joining Congress was believed to be the pact signed by his company I-PAC with K Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for the state Assembly elections scheduled to take place in 2023, sources were quoted as saying in a report by The Telegraph. Prashant Kishor had reportedly spent time with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) and other parties “brainstorming” for the 2023 state Assembly elections. TRS working president K T Rama Rao on Monday, however, said the party was indeed working with I-PAC but Prashant Kishor had “maintained distance”.

Prashant Kishor was also associated with Mamata Banerjee-led TMC in Bengal and helped ‘Didi’ to hold onto her throne.

Another factor which might have influenced Prashant Kishor to not join Congress is his image of a poll strategist. Sources in the Congress say that Prashant Kishor wanted sweeping powers and a free hand in election management, but the party wanted a group of leaders to oversee the 2024 general elections. Several Congress leaders were reportedly of the opinion that no consultant should get the power to run the whole show. In its presentation to Congress, Prashant Kishor had mentioned that the party needs to go through change in organisational setup including its social media and communications department.

Even as the ground was prepared for Prashant Kishor to join Congress, there were members in the party which did not want the poll strategist to officially join the party. Top Congress leaders on Monday had raised serious concerns over Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC entering into a poll tie-up with the TRS in Telangana for next assembly elections in the state, sources were quoted as saying by news agency PTI. This arrangement with the TRS may come as a roadblock for Kishor’s entry into the Congress as the party is seeking to wrest power from the TRS in the state.

Sources said the eight-member group constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to formulate the party’s strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls after Kishor made a presentation to the leadership took a serious note of I-PAC’s deal with the TRS.

Some senior leaders of the eight-member group present during a meeting with Gandhi on Monday discussed the issue and raised concerns and are learnt to have told the leadership that it should seek clarifications from Kishor. Prashant Kishor was keen to join the Congress and has expressed his willingness to do so without any expectations, but after the latest development, senior leaders expressed doubts over his commitment as he already has arrangements with the party’s rivals in West Bengal and Bihar. The sources said some leaders have said there will be conflict of interest if the Congress goes ahead with having a poll arrangement with him.

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Published Date: April 26, 2022 5:20 PM IST

Updated Date: April 26, 2022 11:28 PM IST