Kolkata: Poll strategist Prashant Kishor might have retired from election management but he is actively engaged with the Trinamool Congress in expanding its footprints in the northeast and even negotiating with leaders from other parties to join or have a tie-up with Mamata Banerjee’s party as it looks to move beyond West Bengal.
Kishor announced in May that he would quit the space of political strategy, after helping the Trinamool Congress script its third consecutive win in Bengal against an aggressive BJP campaign involving the party’s top leaders.
In August, he also resigned as principal adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh.
However, he has been seen at meetings concerning the Trinamool’s organisational restructuring and those aimed at discussing its northeast expansion.
Special teams of Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) that gather political intelligence about the situation on the ground and Opposition parties are camping in Tripura and Assam, it is learnt.
Top Trinamool Congress leaders say Kishor has made a significant contribution in “changing and shaping the general perception” of the party nationally, and helped Mamata Banerjee shed the “regional party” tag.
“Even though Prashant Kishor is no longer in the job of helping politicians win elections, he is well-attached with the Trinamool Congress,” said Trinamool MP and senior leader Sougata Roy.
“He is in touch with Mamata Banerjee and works in close collaboration with Abhishek (Trinamool general secretary and MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is Mamata’s nephew). He has been our principal adviser since before the elections.”
Roy said he wasn’t sure of Kishor’s exact brief, “but he is surely working hard and putting in a lot of effort to stitch an Opposition front against Modi”.
“His meetings with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar and other senior leaders have yielded results,” he added.
Mamata Banerjee, he said, has extended the contract with I-PAC till the 2026 assembly elections.
Kishor didn’t respond to ThePrint’s call and messages for comment.
However, at least three senior leaders of Opposition parties confirmed that Kishor reached them and initiated the negotiation process for joining or a probable tie-up with Mamata Banerjee. Two of the leaders are from the northeastern states of Tripura and Assam.
“Prashant Kishor started the conversation with Akhil Gogoi of Assam and Pradyot Manikya of Tripura. His team worked hard on Sushmita Dev, former president of Mahila Congress, and Yashwant Sinha, former finance minister,” said a senior Trinamool leader who did not want to be named. “Dev and Sinha joined us. Gogoi and Pradyot are now ready to ally with us.”
Gogoi told The Print that Kishor was present at all three meetings that he had with Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek over the past one month in Kolkata.
I-PAC’s political intelligence unit
Describing how I-PAC works, a senior member of the company said its political intelligence unit works separately from other field units and directly reports to their respective heads at the Hyderabad headquarters.
“The political intelligence unit analyses information with the objective of understanding the political pulse of different regions in the country. Through this, the team attempts to understand the demography and political ecosystem of any region. Our field units are the backbone of I-PAC,” said the member.
Added another source in I-PAC, “Considering the massive win in the last election in Bengal, we have done a few key significant tasks. Our unit was divided into three sections, all of them would report to one state lead.
“Each district was further divided into assembly constituencies and furthermore into gram panchayats. One of our key ways to function is that we delve deep into every little detail that concerns people. This unit has also identified key potential leaders, key areas and planned every campaign accordingly to boost the party’s image as a whole.”
Roy said “Prashant Kishor’s inputs and his ideas really worked well for the Trinamool Congress”.
“Many of the government schemes, including Duare Sarkar (government at your doorstep), Didi Ke Bolo (speak to Didi), Swasthya Sathi (health ally) and so on turned out to be game-changers for us. Mamata Banerjee extended I-PAC’s contract till the 2026 elections,” he added. “He is assisting our leader in taking Trinamool Congress to the national platform.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)