Prashant Kishor on Thursday further fanned speculations of joining the Congress with yet another meeting scheduled with the party top brass on Friday and this time, the poll strategist seems to be taking his role seriously in preparation for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Sources close to Kishor were quoted as saying by news agency ANI that the strategist has prepared a presentation of 600 slides to be screened for the leadership but no one has seen the complete presentation yet.
Kishor on Monday evening met the party’s chief Sonia Gandhi for a planning session on the upcoming assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections. This was the second meeting in the last three days as the poll strategist had met Gandhi on Saturday and given a detailed presentation to the top leadership on the way forward for 2024 general elections, while expressing readiness to join the party.
The Congress is considering Prashant Kishor’s proposal for the revival of the grand old party and a game plan for the upcoming elections.
The party has been given the rest of this month to respond to Kishor’s proposal, which incorporates a plan for the party to contest 370 seats in the next general elections and the cobbling of strategic partnerships in certain states.
Kishor suggested that the party contest alone in a few state assembly elections where it is strong and has remained either on the top or in the second position in previous elections.
He also told the leadership to start afresh in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha. Kishor, who has held several rounds of meetings with the top Congress leadership, is also learnt to have made suggestions on the upcoming assembly elections including the induction of Naresh Patel, a Patidar leader in Gujarat.
AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said a decision on Kishor’s suggestions, including on whether he will join the party, will be known in a week. There had been intense speculation in the past too on the possibility of Kishor joining the Congress including before the recent assembly polls.
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Mallikarjun Kharge and other senior party leaders were present at the four-hour meeting at the Congress president’s 10, Janpath residence that discussed the party’s strategy for the upcoming assembly polls and the next Lok Sabha election.
According to sources, Kishor told the select gathering that he is ready to join the Congress “without any expectations” and does not want anything but his plan should be implemented to help strengthen the party at the grassroots level.
The poll strategist had earlier joined the JD(U) but was expelled in January 2020 over his stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act. He had been roped in by the Trinamool Congress, the DMK and the Aam Aadmi Party in their assembly election campaigns.
The Congress has been grappling with repeated election defeats in the last two general elections and many state assembly elections and is desperate to turn a corner. The party is not only facing a series of desertions ever since its electoral graph has taken a downturn, but the brewing internal conflict between the old guard and the new generation for leadership roles has also taken its toll.
The G-23, a grouping of some party leaders who have been critical of the leadership and demanded an organisational overhaul, did not react to the proposed induction of Kishor. However, a section of a party that has been critical of the decision-making process is skeptical about the move, with some leaders even saying that the leadership is now ”outsourcing” its work.
(With PTI inputs)