Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh are still two and a half years away, but the state’s main opposition – the YSR Congress party is all set to engage political strategist Prashant Kishor to work out a plan to capture power in the 2019 elections.
Strategist-for-hire Kishor played a major role in designing the campaign strategies of Narendra Modi-led NDA in the 2014 general elections and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in Bihar a year later, before taking up the assignment to resurrect the Congress in UP and Punjab in the assembly polls next year.
Sources in YSR Congress said party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy has reached an agreement with Kishor.
“At present, Prashant is busy helping the Congress party in the forthcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh. Once he completes the UP mission, he, along with his team, will concentrate on Andhra Pradesh with a view to chalk out a political strategy for YSR Congress in the next assembly elections to be held in 2019,”a party source said.
Officially, however, the party leaders are tight-lipped about engaging Kishor’s services for the next elections.
When contacted, YSR Congress MP V Vijay Sai Reddy, who is a key advisor to Jagan, neither confirmed nor denied the report. “I don’t want to say anything right now but we will disclose our plans at an appropriate time,” Reddy told HT.
He, however, said the party would take help of various agencies, including Prashant Kishor, to study the current political situation and work out how to benefit from it.
Another party MP Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy said the party president had recently discussed the issue of engaging the services of a political strategist, presently working in Uttar Pradesh, to draft the action plan for YSRC in the next elections. “Our leader, however, did not disclose his name then,” he said.
The YSR Congress leaders believe there is a strong anti-incumbency building against ruling Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh. The TDP won 102 seats in the 2014 assembly polls while the YSRC bagged 67 seats in the 176-member assembly.
“The failure of the Chandrababu Naidu government on various fronts, especially with regard to tackling drought in Rayalaseema, failure in implementing crop loan waiver scheme, growing unemployment in the state, lack of industrialisation and rampant corruption in the construction of the new capital city of Amaravati. Naidu’s failure to secure special category status to Andhra Pradesh is the last nail in the coffin of the TDP,” a senior YSRC leader said.
The YSR Congress has already started its preparations for the next elections by launching a door-to-door campaign to expose the alleged failures of the Chandrababu Naidu government.
Sources said Prashant Kishor has already suggested some steps to the YSRC to prepare the ground for the campaign strategy. These include building up a 10,000-member strong youth brigade for a ground-level study to pick up winning candidates, identifying issues that would prove negative for the Naidu government in the coming days, taking up issues into the people in an effective manner and above all, effective media management.