The doctrine of Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor--have fewer fronts to fight--may not be going down well with Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, who does not want to open party’s doors to expelled senior leaders Bir Devinder and Jagmeet Brar.
While Amarinder wants to be seen as the one calling the shots, Kishor wants a free hand in deciding what’s going to hurt Congress prospects and what will boost them. After Brar and Devinder’s photo-op at the latter’s residence in Patiala, Kishor held a meeting with the two last week at the residence of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi to smoothen their ruffled feathers. But according to party insiders, Kishor did not take Amarinder, who was in the US then, into confidence before meeting the two leaders.
Kishor, who has the ear of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and is also handling the all-important Uttar Pradesh campaign, thinks the Bir Devinder-Jagmeet Brar combination may open up yet another front for the Congress, which is locked in a triangular contest with the SAD and AAP. To prevent the two from joining ranks, he wants to bring at least Bir Devinder back into the party fold. Unlike Brar, who is keen to jump on to AAP or the BSP bandwagon, Bir Devinder is keen on a comeback.
But speaking to HT, Amarinder said he is not going to tolerate indiscipline and would not like to set a “wrong precedent” in the party by taking the leaders back. “Both Bir Devinder and Brar have created a lot of disciplinary problems in the party. We cannot tolerate such things. But I have no problems with Kishor meeting them. Just because I am out the country does not mean nothing will move in the party unit. Whatever Kishor did was in good faith. I am the party’s state president and Prashant is my strategist. I met him on Saturday. If he took an initiative to smoothen the ruffled feathers of some leaders, it is not interference in my working. We are working at things together,” he said. To deny reports of a rift between him and Kishor, Amarinder also tweeted on Saturday, “There is no question of difference of opinion between Prashantji and me on handling the state of affairs or the way forward in Punjab.”
Earlier too, Amarinder and Kishor were not on the same page on former’s North America tour to woo Punjabi diaspora as Kishor believes NRIs do not influence poll outcome.
With Kishor pulling his own strings in the party, there may be trouble, especially if Bir Devinder remains the bone of contention. Not to forget, many of those who were earlier calling the shots in Amarinder’s team are now feeling sidelined in the new scheme of things. “Having handled campaigns of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, Kishor is trying to be more assertive. Unlike JDU and BJP, he will also have to contend with regional satraps like Amarinder,” a senior Congress MLA said.