File image of political strategist Prashant Kishor | Photo: PTI
File image of political strategist Prashant Kishor | Photo: PTI
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Chandigarh: Election strategist Prashant Kishor has made it clear that he will not be working for the Congress in Punjab for the 2022 assembly elections, despite Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s keenness on it.

Kishor, founder of the Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), was credited with planning and executing the Amarinder-led Congress’ strategy in the 2017 elections, which resulted in them coming back to power with a thumping majority.

But Kishor told ThePrint that he would not like to work for the Congress in “bits and pieces”, and said all speculation should be put to rest.

“I have already spoken on the subject and have nothing more to add. I do not wish to work for the Congress in bits and pieces,” Kishor said.


Also read: Prashant Kishor is seen as an election magician. But he wins only when in winning team


A divided house

The rebuff comes at a time when the Punjab CM is faced with a divided house over Kishor’s involvement. State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari had gone public last week saying that Kishor was not needed for the Punjab election, but Amarinder was rooting for him.

The chief minister had, during a video press conference last Friday, claimed that Kishor had “responded positively” to his request for shaping the strategy for the 2022 assembly polls. “Kishor has said he would be quite happy to come and help,” Amarinder had said, adding that he had discussed the matter with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, who had left the decision to him.

Amarinder claimed he had also taken his party MLAs into confidence, and 55 of the 80 leaders were in favour of bringing back Kishor to handle the campaign.

However, sources in the party claimed that besides Jakhar and Kumari, a large number of party MLAs, including senior ministers, too did not want Kishor.

“I, along with at least half a dozen MLAs, met the chief minister and told him that bringing in Kishor was not a good idea,” said an MLA who wished not to be named.


Also read: Why ‘winners’ pick Prashant Kishor


The 2017 campaign

The Congress’ 2017 assembly election campaign was designed by Kishor and revolved entirely around Amarinder. The party won 77 seats in the 117 seat assembly and Amarinder had credited Kishor for the success.

In his Friday press conference too, Amarinder reiterated his intention to contest the elections but said the decision on leading the party rested with the Congress president. He said though he had initially termed the 2017 polls as his last election, he had subsequently, on the persuasion of his party colleagues, changed his mind.

Party sources said with Amarinder leading the show, he wanted the 2017 strategy to be repeated by Kishor.


Also read: Couldn’t have said it better — Prashant Kishor earns Congress, RJD praise for Nitish attack


The Sidhu factor

“Although there is no grave challenge to Amarinder’s supremacy of the party in the state, Navjot Sidhu could play a substantially detrimental role against Amarinder if not placated in time,” said a party MLA.

Former cabinet minister Sidhu had resigned from his position in the cabinet after his portfolios were changed by Amarinder following the performance of the party in last year’s parliamentary polls.

While Sidhu has been quiet and lying low ever since, Amarinder has maintained that he is “very much a part of the Congress”. Amarinder said Friday that Sidhu or any other Congress member who had any concerns on any issue could come and talk to him.

Responding to rumours that Kishor was trying to bring in Sidhu to lead the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab, Amarinder said he had talked to Kishor and he had denied that he was in talks with Sidhu or AAP.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal has, however, said that Sidhu is “welcome” in his party.


Also read: Prashant Kishor accused of plagiarism, taken to court by ‘Congress’ strategist Sashwat Gautam


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. PK is smart enough to realize his futility in BJP ruled states which are going to polls for second or third time.
    Progressively they are winning on the performance and not on advise of someone who gives an analysis based on figures, cast break-ups and such other factors which did play a major roll in the days before the performance based approach of governance.
    If the performance of any government is good with a reasonably clean image Mr. PK can do all the HEADSTANDS he wants but will not get results.
    He would do well to advise governments and his other clients how not to steal money and be fair in governance.

  2. Are the people and politics of Punjab waiting for another ‘Captain’.

    Again, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu is hot in Punjab politics. Why is he being tracked so closely? This is why.
    “Punjab da Captain” was a political campaign that I-PAC of Prashant Kishore launched for the packaging and branding of Captain Amarinder Singh as the future Chief minister of Punjab before the 2017 assembly elections. Captain Amarinder Singh or the The Maharaja (as his loyalists prefer to call him) of erstwhile Patiala Riyasat and Ex. Captain of the Indian Army was the PCC chief who clashed head on with Akalis during their ten years of power in Punjab with his no stop barbs. The ‘Punjab da Captain’ campaign was successful to the point that a “Captain defeated a General”.(Former army chief Gen JJ singh, of Aam Aadmi Party was defeated by Amarinder singh in the Patiala assembly constituency.)

    Punjab assembly elections are due in the beginning of 2022,only a year and a half ahead of now .Before the last assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party had emerged as a new political force in Punjab politics and some political surveys had expected the AAP to form the government in this border state. But AAP fell way side of the majority mark in the assembly. Nevertheless AAP raised itself to the status of principal opposition party in Punjab assembly and captured the post of the Leader of Opposition. Later This LoP post was the main bone of contention among its leaders that divided and subdivided the AAP inside the assembly and outside.

    All this needs a reminder here because at that time the people of Punjab attempted an experiment with the so called ‘third alternative’. Punjab is a bipartisan state except for a brief period when the communists have had some influence in the Punjab assembly and in some pockets of the Malwa belt. The ‘third alternative’ goal is being targeted again and again, sometimes from the left, sometimes from the right planks and sometimes from central positions but the board is not being hit. It was attempted once more, during the parliamentary elections of 2019.Disgruntled leader of Akali Dal formed Akali Dal Taksali and sided with AAP. The disgruntled Aam Aadmi Party leaders, one of whom formed Punjab Ekta Party and the other formed Nawan Punjab Party collaborated with Bahujan Samaj Party,and fought parliamentary elections under the banner of Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) but both the ‘fronts’lost all seats they contested due to lack of coordination and issues.

    So the ‘third alternative’ is an incomplete project in Punjab, that has the possibilities of completion if pursued with the politics based on right kind of issues, images and peoples.

    So this is why Sidhu is hot these days:In view of this simmering possibility of ‘third alternative’ there is one factor or personality that is being watched eagerly for his next political move. That personality is Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu.Once he starts playing his cards again, political orientation and activity will trigger. Mr Sidhu is lying low for quite some time after he resigned from the Punjab cabinet due to his differences with Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh. Although incommunicado, and he is appearing only on his newly launched you tube channel ‘Jittega Punjab’ he is being tracked for his next political action.

    Sidhu is in the news again as it is being reported that Prashant Kishore is trying to woo Sidhu for AAP on behalf of Kejriwal. If I-PAC is hired by AAP for Punjab elections, Prashant Kishore will need a personality for packaging his campaign as he knit his campaigns around the personality whom people indentify with easily. So who can be more appropriate then Sidhu, the former cricket star and darling of media, always in demand for his sher -o-shayari and huge wide laughter in Punjabi style.

    But here is more than this, that is attracting Prashant and increasing Sidhu’s brand value. It is Sidhu’s political past. Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as the PM of Pakistan had come under scanner when photographs of flamboyant Sidhu and Pakistan Army Chief, General Bajwa hugging each other flashed on national media. At that time Sidhu shielded himself mentioning the discussion that took place between him and Gen. Bajwa, to open the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, which had been a long standing demand of the Sikh community since independence.
    Sidhu’s stand to visit Pakistan by overruling Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s advice got vindicated when the Pakistan government announced to open up the said corridor and New Delhi reciprocated by laying the foundation stone at this side of the Radcliffe line. By this positive gesture of India and Pakistan government ,the one person who accumulated political capital in this Sikh majority state was Mr.Navjot Singh Sidhu. Efforts were made to deny Sidhu any credit for the opening of the corridor but people of Punjab gave him credit as was evident on the inauguration day, when the social media was replete with the comments by Punjabi people, thanking and giving credit to Navjot Singh Sidhu for this historical demand being fulfilled.
    The anti Pakistan narrative doesn’t work in Punjab that has trans border ethnic, religious and linguistic affinities.
    If Sidhu comes can Pargat be far behind. Pargat Singh is one of the stars from the heydays of Indian hockey team that still reign the memory of people, at least in Punjab whose sportspersons dominated the Indian hockey sky before cricket fully invaded the euphoria for sports. Pargat is bold and outspoken on matters of public concern. His occasional outbursts sends Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in tizzy especially when he airs his views on ‘not taking serious actions on the culprits of the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib,shooting at Bargari’ and the issue of drugs. These were the issues that shook the Punjab politics before the assembly elections of 2017.
    During Sidhus’ controversies Pargat has reiterated many times that Sidhu remains his friend.
    So consider implications and effects of a political Jugalbandi of two former sports stars who have carved a niche in people’s minds. Imagine a scenario : Two of these sports giants wearing the AAP strips on their turbans; Starts a yatra/march from either side of the Punjab end and meet at a centre point in heart of Punjab, culminating in a rally with a new ‘manifesto of hope’
    It can stir the political scene of Punjab.
    But Sidhu might be analysing the cost benefit ratio of his moving to AAP. Sidhu is in congres and is in good terms with Rahul and Priyanka. Remaining in the congress Mr. Sidhu can reap the benefits of a national party with foot soldiers in every town, city and village, a favourable high command in Delhi,a section of the Congress party that sympathise with him but up to the limits till Sidhu remains with the Congress.
    Disadvantage of sticking with the Congress is that he has also to carry the baggage of Amarinders lethargy, of unfulfilled promises of the Congress party during the elections of 2017, i.e ‘Har Ghar Rozgar’ ,Karza Kurki Khatam Fasal Di Puri Rakam, ‘Apni Gaddi Apna Karobar’ etc. etc.
    On joining AAP he can ride upon his clean image, the brand Delhi government model of Kejriwal politics that is being talked about in Punjab, the ideological committed workers and the NRI support. But for this he has to convince and surpass the ‘Old party guard’,-the so called founder members of the AAP.
    So keep an eye on Sidhu and be ready for watching the episodes of interesting state elections. After Ma Matti Manush and Land of Temples in 2021, it will be ‘Apna Punjab’ in the beginning of 2022.
    Ran Bahadur Singh
    M-9463218996

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