March 11 decides battle of master strategists Amit Shah, Prashant Kishor | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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March 11 decides battle of master strategists Amit Shah, Prashant Kishor

The election campaign in Uttarakhand was focused on two personalities – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Harish Rawat. But after polls, the buzz is about BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress election strategist Prashant Kishor

dehradun Updated: Feb 17, 2017 20:12 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Uttarakhandelection
The erratic voting percentage varying between 48% and 81% in different pockets doesn’t give a clear idea for drawing a conclusion.(HT Photo)

DEHRADUN:The election campaign in Uttarakhand was focused on two personalities – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Harish Rawat. But after polls, the buzz is about BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress election strategist Prashant Kishor.

Shah was the main strategist of the saffron party’s poll campaign in the hill state while Kishor was the man behind the Congress game plan.

The polling turnout has confused leaders of both the parties. The erratic voting percentage varying between 48% and 81% in different pockets doesn’t give a clear idea for drawing a conclusion. Has the voting turnout upset the calculation of top poll strategists?

Kishor’s team claims that the Congress can win anything between 30 and 34 seats. Their assessment is that the Congress can win six seats in Haridwar and four in US Nagar district. CM Rawat is contesting from a seat each in the two districts that together has a bunch of 20 seats.

BJP president Amit Shah (HT Photo)

They also believe the party will gain in the Kumaon hills and will be able to retain “some seats” in the Garhwal region. Few in the Congress, however, are not fully convinced.

The ruling party for the first time witnessed a comparatively low profile campaign in the state that was revolved around one man– Rawat. The party organisation not involved in the campaign planning. The Congress has used Kishor’s team in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

“The decision to involve Kishor in the campaign was the central leadership’s idea,” CM Rawat said a day after the polling.

Besides Rawat it is Kishor, who will emerge as ‘giant killer’ if the Congress retains power in Uttarakhand. The party losing Uttarakhand could result in setback for the poll strategist who apparently sees ‘bigger role’ for himself in Indian politics – particularly in Northern India.

Prashant Kishor (HT Photo)

Nonetheless, the saffron party sees better chances of coming to power in Uttarakhand than in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab–where it ruled for 15 years with the Akali Dal. The party also apparently intends to settle scores with the Congress after the latter won the floor test in May last year following two months political drama.

The BJP’s campaign was high pitched with the PM to union leaders and stars addressing rallies at different places. Shah, who was keeping a close tab on campaigning, also addressed back to back rallies.

“Our campaign was far ahead than others. No other poll strategist can be anywhere near to Amitji,” says Ajay Bhatt, state BJP president.

Kishor was the brain behind Narendra Modi’s poll campaign in the run-up to general elections in 2014. But once the BJP was voted to power, Shah emerged all-powerful, paving way for Kishor’s exit from team Modi.

After parting ways with the BJP, Kishor managed the campaign for Nitish Kumar in Bihar in 2015 and for the second time after Delhi, Bihar proved blooper for Shah, who had handled the poll campaign in the Hindi heartland.

But this time, BJP leadership is sure of forming a government even if they fall short of the required numbers.