Around six months after Prashant Kishor was appointed the JD(U) vice president with great deal of fanfare, the poll strategist-turned-politician is now getting back to his old avatar, managing poll campaigns of leaders without any emotional or ideological attachment to the party and the leader whose campaign he is managing.
The next assignment that he has decided to take up as a professional poll strategist is a bit surprising and may have its bearings on his fate as a politician. Kishor, or PK as he is called by people known to him, will be working for West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for the 2021 Assembly elections. PK and Banerjee had been in talks for quite some time but now, they have reached an agreement whereby Kishor will be spending his time and energy strategising her poll campaign in the months to come.
He confirmed to Firstpost that he will be working for Banerjee for the next elections in West Bengal.
The JD(U) vice-president is currently basking in glory for having strategised and won elections in Andhra Pradesh for Jagan Mohan Reddy. YSR Congress Party swept both parliamentary and Assembly polls. It obviously does not matter to Banerjee that PK was working against her close political ally, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. She thinks that PK would be of great value to her in her fight against the BJP.
Now, since JD(U) is an ally of the BJP and Nitish Kumar is leading the Bihar government in a coalition with the saffron party, Kumar’s move to formally help Banerjee in her poll campaign will be in direct conflict with his alliance partner and the coalition NDA, which he is a part of.
Interestingly, in an interview, Nitish Kumar had said he was twice told by BJP president Amit Shah to induct PK into his party. Nitish’s revelation had stirred political circles and varied interpretations were made to that. Sources said, till about a year ago, that PK was in conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders to yet again work for Modi for 2019 parliamentary elections. But it didn’t happen and PK began a new career as a full-time politician in JD(U).
PK’s latest twist, aligning with Banerjee, comes at a time when Nitish is said to be unhappy with BJP’s offer for only one ministerial berth in the newly sworn-in Union Council of Ministers. JD(U) has 16 Lok Sabha MPs and six Rajya Sabha MPs. PK was the key strategist and managed Nitish’s poll campaign for Bihar Assembly elections in 2015. JD(U)-RJD-Congress coalition had trounced BJP and its then allies LJP and RLSP. He also worked with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, even as his association (as poll strategist) with Rahul Gandhi for UP elections was short-lived.
By agreeing to work for Banerjee, PK has gone back from what he had said after joining JD(U), that he would no longer work as poll strategies. But since he had a prior agreement with Jagan Mohan Reddy for 2019 Andhra Pradesh elections, he was duty bound to do that. He claimed it was going to be his last professional assignment.
PK, however, still maintains that “there is no change in what I have said”. That claim could possibly be because of certain technicalities in his terms of agreement with Banerjee.
It is no secret that he was feeling disenchanted in JD(U) and didn’t have much role to play in the just concluded parliamentary elections. Ahead of the first phase of polling in Bihar, Kishor had tweeted:
बिहार में NDA माननीय मोदी जी एवं नीतीश जी के नेतृत्व में मजबूती से चुनाव लड़ रहा है।
JDU की ओर से चुनाव-प्रचार एवं प्रबंधन की जिम्मेदारी पार्टी के वरीय एवं अनुभवी नेता श्री RCP सिंह जी के मजबूत कंधों पर है।
मेरे राजनीति के इस शुरुआती दौर में मेरी भूमिका सीखने और सहयोग की है।
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) March 29, 2019
PK denies that his decision to campaign for Banerjee is reflective of his disenchantment with politics in general and JD(U) in particular. He apparently is also not afraid of what bearing his latest move will have on his close association with Nitish as a party colleague and with BJP as an outside friend and sympathiser.
His role in West Bengal election would be under great public scrutiny. The BJP has proved that it has made deep inroads into Banerjee’s bastion by winning 18 seats, a nine-time jump from previous two. This might prove to be the toughest assignment for PK.
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Updated Date: Jun 07, 2019 08:22:49 IST