Image Credit: ANI

When elections are on the anvil, can Prashant Kishor (PK), the ideology-agnostic poll strategist turned politician, be far behind? My loyal readers of SWAT analysis are extremely familiar with the PK phenomenon. How he helped greenlight Modi’s 2014 electoral win, only to fall out with Amit Shah who thought that the credit should accrue to him.

A spurned PK then turned to managing elections for Modi’s rivals like Nitish Kumar (then arrayed against Modi) and Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal at astronomical costs. One thing all rival leaders agree on is that PK charges huge amounts for his services.

PK was so bitten by the political bug that he joined Kumar’s Janata Dal United as an office holder. As speculation did the rounds that PK was Kumar’s heir apparent, Kumar apparently found out that the rumours were circulated by PK. A livid Kumar sacked him and in a parting barb said that he had taken PK in only on Shah’s recommendation.

One thing that PK has is luck in spades so as the patrons in the North dried up he started working for Banerjee at the insistence of her nephew. PK also had patrons in the form of Jaggan Mohan Reddy and KCR. But, PK had been bitten by the political bug. Despite helming a flop campaign for Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav when the Congress and Samajwadi Party were in alliance, PK refused to give up.

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No political background

As exclusively broken by me in Gulf News, PK wanted to join the Congress party and basically convert it into a special purpose vehicle for himself. He wanted total control from leadership to the issues the Congress would take on.

PK had many presentations with the three members of the Gandhi family Rahul, Priyanka, and their mother Sonia Gandhi. A series of power point presentations were done. While the mother and daughter were convinced, Rahul was the tough sell. Gandhi was not buying what PK was selling.

Eventually the Congress publicly said they offered PK a general secretary position in the party and he declined. Consider the audacity of PK’s imagination with no political background, having held no political or executive office, he wanted to catapult himself to the top of India’s oldest political party. And, he wouldn’t budge from those terms.

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With the Congress rejection gnawing at him he started a padyatra (march on foot) saying he would never work as a political consultant again. Politics, he felt, especially his home state of Bihar, was his calling. PK who is inordinately fond of the press vanished from the headlines. The Indian media somehow never accepted his political avatar and he obliged by giving occasional interviews attacking the opposition while ostensibly being part of it.

PK once told me in a rare moment of candour that he still had a good relationship with Modi. Now he is back, rubbishing Rahul Gandhi saying he should retire and that he doesn’t listen. Connect the dots. PK is back rubbishing and running down Modi’s biggest rival Gandhi and is obligingly getting huge airtime as “anchors” hang on to his every word proclaiming Gandhi is a total failure.

Considering he wanted to join the Congress — a certain pique can be discerned. The million-dollar question is that did PK ever stop working for Modi? Or just shape-shifted as the job demanded.