Prashant Kishor: Seasoned Poll Strategist Who Revived Mamata’s Fate After Lok Sabha Setback | India News
KOLKATA: Except for occasional interviews with the media, you work quite quietly in your electoral war room or you are sitting in the dark among a crowd of workers and party leaders who are listening intently to you.
However, the “man of the match” has often been awarded Prashant Kishor for his role in winning an electoral game for prominent leaders of all parties. And West Bengal was no different.
“… actually, BJP will have a hard time crossing double digits in #WestBengal,” he had tweeted in December last year and his words were prophetic.
“If BJP does better, I must leave this space!” The poll strategist added, a statement was perceived by many as bravado given the BJP’s impressive achievements in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bengal and its vigorous high-decibel campaign for the assembly elections.
On Sunday, despite the anticipated massive TMC victory, Kishor announced on national television that he will stop strategizing for political parties.
“I’m going to leave this space,” he told television channels.
Prashant Kishor or simply PK, as his team members call him, began working for the TMC at the request of the party supreme. Mamata banerjee shortly after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP won 18 out of 42 state seats and the ruling party appeared to lose its grip on the state.
Realizing that there was a wave of anger against various lower-level TMC leaders who were often accused of petty corruption in the execution of public welfare plans, Kishor designed the ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ (Tell Didi) campaign. under which citizens could approach the Chief directly. Minister Mamata Banerjee with her complaints.
“The PK program became popular and acted as a safety valve that allowed popular steam to come out,” said Rajat Roy, a political analyst and member of the Calcutta Research Group.
The strategist, in his forties, has extensive experience in successfully crafting electoral strategies, including Narendra modiFirst prime ministerial campaign in 2014 when he was the prime minister of Gujarat.
Kishor spent months and months carefully crafting the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish kumarof the 2015 campaign and subsequently helped design the successful candidacy of Captain Amarinder Singh from Congress in Punjab.
He proved himself the master of his craft when he helped catapult Jagan Mohan Reddy from the YSR Congress to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2019. He also advised Arvind kejriwal during the 2020 Delhi Assembly Elections.
The input TMC got from its meetings with citizen groups and surveys conducted by Kishor’s team of candidates saw many senior leaders removed and new faces brought in. Minor rebellions brewed, but were suppressed.
The prime minister’s attempts to combat corruption at the middle and lower echelons of the party following BJP’s accusation of large-scale irregularities in the distribution of relief after Cyclone Amphan also paid off, Kishor said.
The strategist who is believed to have conceptualized the ‘Duare Sarkar’ (government at your doorstep) program under which benefits from a number of welfare plans, including scheduled caste certificates, were delivered to the households of the beneficiaries, also boosted their position among the beneficiaries. poor.
During the campaign, the ‘Kanyashree’ program was highlighted, awarded with the UN prize of the government of West Bengal, in which money is transferred to the bank accounts of girls so that they can continue studying and early marriages can be prevented.
Everyone welcomed the strategy of expanding the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ health insurance plan to the entire population in December 2000. The plan was launched by Banerjee in 2016. It is basic health coverage for secondary and tertiary care of up to five rupees lakh per year for each family.
The TMC government’s brand as pro-women proved immensely beneficial to the party.
“The prime minister continues to be extremely popular with women, the campaign that emphasized initiatives in favor of women was well received … his high participation (of women) helped,” said Professor Ranabir Samaddar, renowned political scientist and former director of Maulana Azad. Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata.
But the vigorous BJP election campaign, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah had invested heavily, racing to West Bengal every few days, caused Kishor to reconsider his strategy.
His response was the slogan ‘Bangla nijer meyekei chay’ (Bengal loves his daughter) which found resonance with the people.
Banerjee, the trail of debate between insiders and outsiders, was part of the strategy to appeal to Bengali sub-nationalism, something so far foreign to West Bengal politics. It was an ace that Kishor drew to give great weight to Banerjee’s campaign against the powerful electoral army of the BJP.