Prashant Kishor’s bolt from the blue leaves Punjab Cong leaders in suspense
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s principal adviser and political strategist Prashant Kishor got a shot in the arm on Sunday with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal.
But the Congress in Punjab is not celebrating his success for two reasons. The Congress, which once ruled West Bengal, failed to open its account there and then Kishor also announced his retirement from election management work. “I do not want to continue what I am doing. I have done enough. Time for me to take a break and do something else in life. I want to quit this space,” he told private news channels in separate interviews on his decision to quit as an election strategist.
On being asked by a channel about his appointment in the state, he said: “If you help someone win an election, it is nothing if they offer you principal adviser or adviser’s post. They always like you to be by their side because it suits them. It is for me to decide whether I want to do that or not. I am telling you that I am not doing this work for anybody anymore.”
Kishor, or “PK” as he is often called in political circles, was widely expected to draw the Congress’ poll strategy for the 2022 assembly elections. His announcement has come as a bolt from the blue for the Congressmen. While there was no official word from the chief minister or his other advisers, the poll strategist’s decision has left the party leaders in suspense.
The sultan of spin, who has scripted several successful election campaigns across the country, had held meetings with the party’s first-MLAs and top officials of the state government after his appointed two months ago to gather feedback on the ground realities, implementation of poll promises and focus areas to draw the strategy for the assembly polls due early next year.
“When I met him five weeks ago, PK gave no such indication and was all ears. He took a lot of interest and had everything on his fingertips,” a first-time MLA, who was among those who met Kishor at the chief minister’s residence in Chandigarh and seemed impressed, expressing disappointment over the development.
A senior party leader, while being hopeful that he will not back off from his commitment made to the chief minister, did not sound sure. “He has not specified any timeframe for quitting as an election strategist. I think he will stick here, but one never knows,” he said.
However, an aide of the chief minister said that since he now occupies an official position in the government as the chief minister’s principal adviser, Kishor is distancing himself from the company. “Under the government rules, any person occupying an official position cannot carry out any business activity,” he said.
Kishor, in his interviews to a number of channels following the West Bengal poll results, also said that he would be parting ways with the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), the political advocacy group he founded.
The poll strategist, who was inducted by Amarinder in the chief minister’s office on March 1, had worked with the Congress in Punjab in the 2017 assembly polls with Amarinder as the state unit chief. He was seen as the brain behind the “Coffee with Captain” and “Punjab da Captain” that had worked well for the party and the CM-face. “PK & his team and their work was absolutely critical to our victory in Punjab!” Amarinder had tweeted after the party’s victory.