Pawar, Kishor meet amid buzz of new tie-up
Mumbai: Political strategist Prashant Kishor on Friday called on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at his Mumbai residence and held talks for nearly three hours, fuelling speculations that efforts had already begun to form a national coalition against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary elections.
This is Kishor’s first meeting with Pawar after the victory of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, respectively. He had helped craft the election strategy for these parties in the polls. After the results on May 2, the election strategist had said that he was “quitting this space”.
According to people familiar with the development, Kishor arrived at ‘Silver Oak’, Pawar’s residence in south Mumbai, at around 11 am and left the venue at around 2 pm along with the NCP chief’s daughter and Baramati MP Supriya Sule. State NCP chief Jayant Patil also visited Pawar’s residence for some time during this period.
The possibility of an alternative to the ruling BJP at the Centre was among the topics of discussion during the meeting, the people cited above said.
“Pawar saheb has been working to bring all opposition parties together against the BJP. It is natural that the issue would be discussed,” a senior NCP leader said, preferring anonymity.
The meeting with the poll strategist came a day after Pawar said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi -- comprising mainly NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress -- will not only complete its five-year term in Maharashtra but also perform well in the 2019 assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
“There was a lot of buzz going around soon after the chief minister’s (Uddhav Thackeray) one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) in Delhi. As I said, we have never worked with the Shiv Sena in the past but Maharashtra has been watching the party for the past many years. Shiv Sena is a party that can be trusted. Even if people are raising doubts over the meeting, I have no doubt that the MVA government will not only complete its tenure of five years but also perform well in the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections and represent the state and the country,” Pawar had told a small gathering of workers at the NCP headquarters on the occasion of the party’s 22nd foundation day on Thursday.
During the 2019 polls, Kishor was the political advisor to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray before the 2019 assembly elections.
Senior NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal said Pawar will definitely consider roping in Kishor if the latter comes up with any strong poll ideas.
“He (Prashant Kishor) is a successful election strategist and has helped various parties win the polls. I don’t know the exact reason behind the meeting but if he comes up with a suggestion, the NCP chief will certainly consider it,” Bhujbal said.
Deputy chief minister and the NCP chief’s nephew Ajit Pawar, however, downplayed the issue. “Prashant Kishor has already declared quitting the profession as a poll strategist based on his experiences. So, a political discussion is out of the question. People from various walks of life come to meet Pawar saheb,” he told reporters in Pune.
“Several leaders wanted to know about Kishor’s strategies, considering the success he has got in different elections. There is nothing wrong in such a meeting,” Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.