New Delhi: The term ‘political strategist’ has no legs or scope, so Prashant Kishor prefers to be called a “political aide”, he told ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Senior Associate Editor Neelam Pandey on Off The Cuff.
Earlier this year, Kishor, founder of the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), helped the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu to victory.
“I see myself as a political aide for politicians who choose to work with me in the context of elections and beyond,” Kishor said in the conversation, which was broadcast on ThePrint’s YouTube channel Wednesday at 7 pm.
The conversation ranged from Kishor’s own ideology and political ambitions, space for the Opposition, the reason for the BJP’s success, and the current political scenario in India.
Questioned about his own ideology, Kishor conceded that “obviously” he had one. However, he added a caveat that his ideology should not force him to lose his objectivity. He then gave an example of BJP leaders justifying lynchings, calling it as an instance of “losing objectivity over ideology”.
On his own political ambitions, Kishor said he was a “failed politician” as a member of the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar, as he had differences with Nitish Kumar over the party’s ever-shrinking space in the state. He also spoke about how he almost joined the Congress and conceded that he did have political ambitions, but said he would never join the BJP.
“I will never join the BJP, it’s not on the table. Ideologically, I would be very uncomfortable joining BJP as a party,” he said.
Role of Opposition, space for Congress and chinks in BJP armour
Kishor, who said recently that the leadership of the Congress was not the divine right of any individual, explained that it had been 7-8 years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise, and the Congress was still not able to pull its act together.
Lashing out at the party, he said the Congress was taking “theka (contract)” for distributing certificates of secularism and being anti-Modi, similar to the BJP giving out certificates of nationalism.
“The Congress party needs to relook and reconfigure its own strengths… Congress has a lack of ability to own up its legacy. In the last 20 years, Congress has not managed a pan-India agitation lasting more than 72 hours,” he said.
Kishor, however, did concede that the Congress still has a formidable space as an Opposition party, although he added it was still learning to be not in government.
“Anyone who wants to counter BJP needs to have the space occupied by Congress. If you leave aside Congress, you don’t have a big enough denominator to defeat BJP. But the Congress is not the same as it was,” said Prashant Kishor.
He also went on to speak about the BJP’s performance in elections.
“BJP’s underperformance in Vidhan Sabha (elections) is because hypernationalism does not work there. The chink in its armour is that the party is too dependent on Modi’s popularity, as well as its inability to do well in eastern & southern India. Even in the most polarised elections, BJP has not got more than 50-55 per cent Hindu votes,” he explained.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)