Mission UP : Prashant Kishor facing problems galore in his attempt to revive state Congress
New Delhi: Everybody agrees that Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be the litmus test for the managerial prowess of master strategist Prashant Kishor.
Prashant Kishor, to his credit, loves to take challenges. The way he first formulated and then executed to perfection the communication strategy for Narendra Modi’s 2014 Lok Sabha campaign has become a case study for the students of electoral communication. After all, who had expected Modi to win 282 seats?
Similarly, Prashant Kishor’s role in facilitating the victory of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2015Assembly elections is also no less significant. In this case, Kishor not only devised Nitish Kumar’s communication strategy but also resolved differences between Kumar and Lalu Prasad paving the way for the hat-trick of Nitish-led government in the state. It was a confident Kishor who used to tell both Nitish and Lalu that the alliance is poised to get a comfortable majority in Assembly when the duo was worried over majority of pre-poll surveys either predicting a neck-to-neck fight or an outright NDA victory.
When Rahul Gandhi asked Prashant to handle UP and bring life into almost a moribund Congress, Kishor was excited and agreed to take up the challenge. He was confident that he would change the fortunes of the grand old party of Indian polity which is out of power in the state for 27 years now. Little did he know that he will have to face roadblocks right from day 1, and that too, not from the political opponents of Congress but the Congress leaders themselves.
If reports emanating from Uttar Pradesh are to be believed then the biggest challenge that Prashant Kishor is facing in the state is that the he is not getting whole-hearted support of the party cadre and senior leaders, especially those who are considered to be close to Gandhi family.
According to a recent media report, Prashant Kishor sought feedback on a questionnaire from all Assembly constituencies. What came as a shock to Prashant was the fact that three Assembly constituencies refused to send the feedback. There is no prize to guess which these constituencies are. They are all pocket boroughs of Gandhi family members.
The Assembly constituencies of Amethi, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur refused to respond by pointing out that the grass root cadres of these constituencies are personally selected by Gandhi family members and they don’t need to participate in such an exercise.
The question is that if this is going to be the attitude of cadres who, obviously, are finding it difficult to obey the dictates of an ‘outsider’ like Kishor then how would he succeed in motivating party workers all across the state.
UP Congress is known for its factionalism. If the Assembly constituencies considered to be fiefdoms of Gandhi family members refuse to cooperate with Kishor then would it not send wrong signals to party workers of other constituencies?
One of the suggestions that Prashant Kishor reportedly gave for the the revival of Congress underlined the need for senior Congress leaders like Sri Prakash Jaiswal to contest Assembly elections which they flatly refused.
Kishor’s most interesting suggestion is regarding Priyanka Gandhi. Prashant Kishor wants Priyanka Gandhi to lead Congress party’s election campaign in UP if the party has to touch the 100 plus benchmark. Unfortunately for Kishor, here again, he is facing resistance from the old guards who fancy her chances to win a national election and that’s the reason they are not willing to restrict her to UP alone.
In nutshell, Prashant Kishor wants to try all tricks in his book to revive the Congress party in India’s most populous and electorally crucial state but he is not getting the desired support from the Congress cadre who are yet to start treating him as ‘one of their own’.
As of now, Kishor is facing problems galore as far his Mission UP is concerned and things may change only if Rahul Gandhi himself intervenes and gives Kishor all the support that he needs. Will he do that?