Won't join Congress, party needs reforms: Prashant Kishor

The Asian Age.  | Ashhar Khan

India, Politics

Says the party needs 'leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems through transformational reforms'

Political strategist Prashant Kishor. (DC File)

New Delhi: A “trust deficit” apparently came in the way of poll strategist Prashant Kishor joining the Congress Party. The professional deal between Mr Kishor’s I-PAC and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi for the 2023 state Assembly polls in the southern state had raised many eyebrows within the Congress. The Congress, incidentally, remains the prime opposition against the TRS in Telangana.

Also, Mr Kishor’s reported desire to have a free hand and report directly to the high command instead of going through the new Empowered Action Group was the other reason for the deal between Mr Kishor and the Congress falling through. Several Telangana leaders had raised their eyebrows when Mr Kishor was meeting the TRS top brass in Hyderabad on one hand and giving presentations to the Congress high command in New Delhi on the other. This was particularly so as senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is expected to hold a rally in Telangana in the first week of May.

Hitting back at the Congress, Mr Kishor said the party was in no mood for a transformation within the organisation. He tweeted: “In my humble opinion, more than me, the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep-rooted structural problems through transformational reforms. I declined the generous offer of the Congress to join the party as part of the EAG & take responsibility for the elections. In my humble opinion, more than me, the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep-rooted structural problems through transformational reforms.”

Tuesday afternoon began with a tweet by Congress communications chief Randeep Singh Surjewala, where he said: “Following a presentation & discussions with Prashant Kishor, Congress president has constituted (an) Empowered Action Group 2024 & invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility. He declined. We appreciate his efforts and suggestions given to the party.”

Insiders claim that Mr Kishor wanted specific changes that were resisted by the party. Many leaders did not appreciate the radical changes sought by him, while some others were of the view that such enormous power cannot be given to a newcomer in the party. Before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, when Ms Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was getting active in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Kishor had taken a dig at the Gandhi siblings for not being consistent with their appearances. The party was more keen to go in for incremental changes, he felt.

The entire episode has left the Congress high command red-faced. In the last couple of weeks, Mr Kishor had at least three meetings with the top leadership of the Congress. He gave presentations at those meetings. Many within the Congress claimed that Mr Kishor had in the past caused much harm to the Congress.  The leaders also recollected the damage Mr Kishor caused the party in Goa and West Bengal, where he deliberately poached the party’s ranks in favour of the Trinamul Congress. They also expressed doubts over Mr Kishor’s ability to pull off a national campaign as his successes were restricted to the regional level.