New Delhi, May 30: Verdict of 2014 Lok Sabha elections turned Prashant Kishor into a VIP within the nation’s political circles. The successful ‘NaMo’ campaign not only brushed away the apprehensions which electorate had about Narendra Modi, but also rode the ‘Hindu nationalist’ to power with a resounding mandate. In the post-electoral analysis, it was found that a 36-year-old marketing executive, who never featured as an expert in Delhi’s air-conditioned studios, was the one who termed the potential triumph of Modi as the arrival of Achhe Din for the nation. Also Read - Focus on Micro-containment Zones to Save Country From Lockdown: PM Modi
The popularity of Kishor further escalated, when he severed ties with BJP and joined Nitish Kumar, leading him to a historic victory in Bihar. However, this euphoria surrounding Prashant Kishor is expected to fizzle out as early as the onset of 2017, when polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will be conducted. Considering the probabilities, surveys and latest developments, it would not be an overstatement to say that an electorally low Congress would sink further. In the upcoming drubbings, Congress would pull down Kishor as well, who has signed up as the chief strategist for the party in the two states. Also Read - Lockdown Should Be Last Option, Efforts on to Meet Oxygen Needs, Says PM Modi | Top Points
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As a marketer, Kishor should had kept in mind that a product could only be sugar-coated if it has the material. While Modi and Nitish were two solid politicians, who could be easily projected as ‘personality cults’, the same is not possible with Congress. While, the grand-old-party has a chief ministerial candidate in Punjab in the form of Captain Amarinder Singh, the royal politician does not appear to strike a chord with the aam aadmi of Punjab, especially at a time when a ‘Kejriwal wave’ has gripped the state. Surveys after surveys have predicted a sweeping victory for AAP, with the credible HuffPost-C Voter survey claiming an AAP victory on nearly 100 of the 113 legislative seats.
Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, Congress is a faceless unit. The party is left in a decimated position in the state, with no other prominent leader from the state except for the mother-son duo of Sonia-Rahul and sister Priyanka. Immediately after taking charge, Kishor urged the central leadership to project either Rahul or Priyanka as their chief ministerial candidate. However, the party high command could not take the risk of testing the fate of their supreme leader, Rahul, in a state election. On the other hand, Priyanka is reportedly not interested to enter active politics, despite being reminiscent of her grandmother and the iron lady of India, Indira Gandhi.
Packaging a faceless UP
WIth the Gandhi family scions denying to lead the electoral battle in the state from the forefront, Kishor is rumoured to be mulling the option of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. In a bid to revamp the state unit of Congress, and present a fresh flock before the electorate, he has reportedly urged the Congress high command to remove state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri, replace legislature party leader Pradeep Mathur and change the general secretaries before the parties. Apart from suggesting long-shot strategic reforms, Kishor has also been touring Uttar Pradesh district-by-district to meet the Congress workers and hear the demand from the ground.
Kishor’s radical reforms have not gone down well with the leaders of Congress in UP. Most of them have raised apprehensions to the suggestions made Kishor, claiming that it would lead to a chaos within the state unit of Congress.
With the kind of non-cooperation meted out towards Kishor, it appears that the poll strategist had an easier time managing political giants Modi and Nitish, rather than convincing the so-called leaders of Congress in UP.
Bruising ego of ‘Punjab da Captain’
Captain Amarinder Singh has a self-heightened image, which has escalated after his victory over Arun Jaitley at the peak of Modi wave in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. After winning the internal Congress battle against Partap Singh Bajwa, Amarinder Singh assumes to have already defeated the tyrannical regime of Badal. Although Amarinder was the one who approached Kishor and roped in as election strategist, the duo are apparently not on the same page.
Amarinder Singh is miffed with Kishor for two reasons – First, his visit to US and Canada to woo the dominant NRI Punjabis was not appreciated by Kishor. The visit which lasted for three weeks, was reportedly considered as unfruitful by the master poll strategist. Although NRIs hold a clout over their villages, such visits in previous elections have not translated into votes. To connect with overseas Punjabis, online interaction like Google Hangout, could had also served the purpose.
Second, during Amarinder visit to North America, Prashant reached out to the two rebel Congress leaders – former MP Jagmeet Brar and legislator Bir Devinder Singh. Kishor’s attempt to woo them back was strongly objected by Amarinder, who reported approached the high command. Although, Congress-in-charge of Punjab, Shakeel Ahmed succeeded in resolving the issue between them, he also ended up announcing that Kishor would have “no say in distribution of tickets and internal organizational matters.”
Is the master poll strategist headed towards a bleak future?
Kishor is already receiving competition from 30-year-old IITian Rajat Sethi, the strategist behind BJP’s resounding victory in Assam. Apart from being a strategist, Sethi is also ideologically committed to RSS-BJP, which makes him the perfect replacement of Kishor for the saffron party.
While defeat in the electoral battles of Punjab and UP would not mean end of the road for Kishor, it would surely dent his credibility, with media and poll experts taking him less seriously. However, Kishor would continue to remain in the good books of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Kishor has already been roped in by Nitish as his official advisor on developmental policies and programme implementation.
Heading into 2019 general elections, Kishor would definitely have a role to play. But his impact would no longer remain the same, if his winning streak ends up being broken due to the alignment with Congress.