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‘Chintan Shivir’ a failure, says Prashant Kishor, predicts rout for Congress in Gujarat, HP

The pollster, who almost joined the Congress a month ago, said the party’s brainstorming session had only prolonged its status quo.

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New Delhi: Election strategist Prashant Kishor said Friday that the Congress party’s recently-concluded brainstorming session, the ‘Chintan Shivir’, has failed to achieve anything meaningful.

The pollster, who negotiated with the Congress for a year and then declined the final offer in April, predicted that the party would be routed in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year.

Kishor tweeted on Friday: “I have been repeatedly asked to comment on the outcome of #UdaiourChintanShivir. In my view, it failed to achieve anything meaningful other than prolonging the status quo and giving some time to the #Congress leadership, at least till the impending electoral rout in Gujarat and HP!”

 

The poll strategist had declined on 26 April, “the generous offer” to join the Congress — a party he had been in talks with for a year.

He had 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.”

Two weeks ago, the strategist explained the reason behind his decision. He said while the Congress was serious to work on his poll plans, he was asked to join the Empowered Action Group — “which has no status in the Congress constitution”.

He said: “The Congress needs to decide how they want to function further, not me. They took whatever decision they deemed important and so did I. Congress doesn’t need any Prashant Kishor, the party has even more capable people. They know what they have to do.”

On 5 May, Kishor made it clear that he would not start a political party, but instead undertake a 3,000-kilometre padayatra in his home state Bihar, starting 2 October from the Gandhi Ashram in West Champaran.

Kishor would meet as many people as possible during his padayatra, he told reporters, adding that this would be part of his initiative to bring ‘nayi soch, naya prayas (new thoughts, fresh effort)’ in Bihar.

Kishor had fuelled speculation of starting a political party with a tweet on 2 May: “My quest to be a meaningful participant in democracy & help shape pro-people policy led to a 10yr rollercoaster ride! As I turn the page, time to go to the Real Masters, THE PEOPLE, to better understand the issues & the path to “जन सुराज”– Peoples Good Governance.”

“Shuruat Bihar se,” he had said.

But two weeks ago, Kishor told reporters: “I want to start from zero. I will spend the next three to four years reaching out to people with the idea of ‘jan suraaj.'”

Kishor said his team had identified 17,000 people in Bihar who wanted good governance. “Around 90 per cent of these people believe Bihar needs new thinking. In the next three to four months, I will try to meet many eminent Bihar personalities who can help build the idea of ‘jan suraaj’ and make them part of it,” he said.

The strategist also said he had no plans to join any of the mainstream political parties in Bihar. Stating he was friends with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Kishor said that didn’t mean “we agree on everything and that will work together”.

The poll planner started out in 2014 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign in the general elections. Next year, he was on Nitish Kumar’s side when the chief minister teamed up with rival Lalu Prasad Yadav to defeat the BJP.

In 2017, Kishor helped the Congress campaign under Captain Amarinder Singh to win Punjab. He played significant roles in wins in Andhra Pradesh (2019), Delhi (2020), Tamil Nadu (2021) and West Bengal (2021).


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