Ace ideology agnostic political consultant, Prashant Kishor has never met a headline about him that he doesn’t like. When I broke the story right here in Gulf News that he was planning to turn a full time politician and join the Congress party, the oldest political party in India, a media frenzy ensured in India.
PK was sanguine it was not his first ride in a political go around. He had briefly joined Nitish Kumar’ Janata Dal united as vice-president and as whispers grew in Patna as Kumar’s heir apparent. Kishor did nothing to squelch those rumours; quite enjoyed them. Nitish Kumar did not and threw Kishor out his party.
Now while even having the Congress as a back up plan (while the Congress brass dithers on his entry), PK — as he is universally addressed — has done two significant things. Ditched Captain Amrinder Singh at absolutely the right time (as political adviser with cabinet rank) as the Gandhi family went sour on him.
The other move is even more interesting. PK went ahead and broke the Congress party in Goa as testified by former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Falerio who switched party bag and baggage from the Congress to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Banerjee.
Falerio let the cat out of the bag by telling reporters that no one from the TMC even approached him. It was PK and his consultancy Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC).
TMC’s Man Friday
It may be recalled that Kishor was the main consultant of the TMC in the recent Bengal elections where Banerjee pummelled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and PK drew level with Shah in his grudge match.
The trickle of turncoats returning to the TMC led by Mukul Roy is also being seen as widely managed by PK and Abhishek Banerjee, MP from Diamond Harbour who carries outsize political capital in the TMC. Banerjee was instrumental in getting PK to join team TMC with outstanding results.
At this point most leaders are bewildered if PK is joining the Congress for good — having given up advocacy, a claim he has also made or is he still working for TMC. Things may get even more confusing as PK is already known to be in talks with another party wanting to join them as “founder member”. Or what in colourful language will be called “backup ka backup” (a backup for the backup).
Meanwhile, PK is running rings around the Congress. It is no secret that Banerjee fancies her chances to lead the opposition and eventually be their face against Modi. TMC leaders keep giving quotes to this effect saying it is about time that Rahul Gandhi, former Congress president, be overlooked for Didi dynamic.
Advantage Congress or not
What stops this ambition short in most regional satraps is that they are the king only in their state or area with zero vote share on an national level. The Congress at its worst performance as a national party against the BJP still commands a loyal 20 per cent vote share, if not less.
So how do ambitious regional satraps dreaming of being Prime Minister get around that? That’s were PK is currently positioning Banerjee by getting her a ready made leader to expand her party’s foot print to Goa. Sushmita Deb also defected from the Congress to the TMC and was immediately rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat by Banerjee.
Deb is key to Banerjee’s plan to extend her and her party’s footprint to Assam. Banerjee’s pan-India plan is based on the Bengal diaspora — Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.
PK has arranged meetings for her with Akhil Gogoi of the Rajidor Dal and she has been having a series of meetings with Pradyot Manikiya, chief of the Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance. Goa, where the TMC got the Congress lock stock and barrel was an audacious move, flying in the face of the opposition not attacking each other.
Congress leaders were left red faced why was PK doing this to a party he was coming on board to? Will he won’t he? Watch this space.