Upon realising the importance of poll campaign strategist Prashant Kishor, the Uttarakhand Congress has roped him in to give a final push to its Assembly election campaign. Kishor’s last-minute entry — after the announcement of Assembly poll dates on Wednesday and a month ahead of the election in Uttarakhand — has come as a big surprise not only for the state Congress leaders but also for Kishor's I-PAC team.
As per the Election Commission’s announcement, the Assembly election in Uttarakhand will be held on 15 February for 70 seats.
A close source aware of the recent development told Firstpost, "Kishor had met Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat a day before and everything happened so quickly that it came as a surprise both to the state Congress leaders and I-PAC team members."
Kishor, who is regarded as the brain behind the BJP’s massive victory in the 2014 General Election and Nitish Kumar’s win in Bihar in 2015, was roped in to repeat a Bihar in Uttar Pradesh. However, after a couple of initial reports, Kishor went missing from the scene in the state. The Financial Express reported in November that post Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's 'khaat pe charcha' debacle, the Congress cut all ties with Kishor who has been called the Digital Chanakya. Kishor was handpicked for the job by Rahul.
At present, Kishor’s I-PAC team members have been working in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
So just why has Rawat brought in Kishor?
According to a source in the Uttarakhand Congress, "Although the state Congress believes it is quite capable of pulling off the election campaign itself, an internal review — with the chief minister at the helm — identified the need to have Kishor by its side. Besides, there are allegations of corruption against Rawat, and the BJP has been targetting the chief minister on this."
The CBI has already summoned Rawat, asking him to appear before it in connection with a probe into allegations of bribe against him. The investigation agency had registered a preliminary enquiry on 29 April to probe a sting operation that purportedly showed Rawat offering bribes to rebel Congress MLAs to support him during the floor test.
"And so, Rawat, who doesn’t want to take any chances, feels Kishor’s involvement in planning the campaign strategy would tie the loose ends," the source added.
According to Uttarakhand Congress sources, it was a week ago that the Uttarakhand chief minister had hinted that Kishor might be brought in.
Onto the matter of what Kishor will be doing, it is believed that the strategist and his I-PAC team will play a similar role to the one they have been playing in UP and Punjab for the respective state Congress. In Uttarakhand, Kishor will plan a month-long campaign architecture of the state Congress. "Within a day or two, the I-PAC team will be on ground. Based on the requirement and planning of the state Congress, Kishor will finetune the campaign strategy and ensure proper implementation on ground," a source coordinating with the team told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.
At present, the I-PAC team has a battery of 300 strong members performing various roles in strategy formulation and implementation related to campaigning for the Congress.
A few members of I-PAC have already been analysing the ground situation in Uttarakhand. Within two days, a new team comprising members already working in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will reach Uttarakhand and visit all 70 Assembly constituencies. Based on the ground reports, Kishor will chalk out the final plan after discussing it with the top leadership of the Uttarakhand Congress.
However, a section within the state Congress feels that the party does not need any external support. "Our chief minister has a strong image and there’s no need for any external support. We are capable of doing it by ourselves," a party member told Firstpost.
Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 10:58 AM