For 2022, Capt Amarinder Singh wants Prashant Kishor by his side
Political strategist Prashant Kishor is “not interested as of now” in taking up the Punjab’s Congress’s offer to design the party’s campaign strategy for 2022 Assembly elections, a source close to him has said. This comes days after an aide of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh called up Congress MLAs seeking their views on hiring Kishor, who is largely credited for successfully strategizing the Congress’s campaign in the 2017 Punjab elections catapulting the party to power with 77 seats in the 117-seat Assembly.
Sources close to Kishor told Indian Express Wednesday that he was “not interested” in taking up Punjab as “his hands were full and he was keeping too busy with West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.”
“Prashant Kishor and CM have spoken 5-6 times on the issue recently. As of now, he has said no. Kishor told Amarinder that his was not a regional party and Kishor was not interested in designing a strategy for Congress again. To this, the CM told him that he will speak to Madam (AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi). It ended there,” the source quoted above said.
The source added, “Prashant Kishor is too busy with West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. He is not keen on Punjab. He has not visited the state even once after 2017 Assembly elections. He did not even keep in touch. He has not even made a phone call to anyone. We will see what happens.”
Kishor had designed Amarinder’s strategy ahead of 2017 Assembly election. He had weaved it around Amarinder’s personal popularity in the state.
A few days ago, political secretary to Amarinder, Capt Sandeep Sandhu had called up MLAs to find out if they wanted Kishor again on board this time. The phone call had left everyone surprised as not many people were consulted last time when Amarinder had signed up Kishor. The MLAs had to pay for logistics of Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) team and they had raised objections.
Sandhu’s phone calls, at a time when a row between Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Cabinet ministers was the hot topic in party circles, were seen as a strong message to MLAs that Amarinder would be contesting the next election and that too by a strategist on his side. The MLAs were raising a banner of revolt with over a dozen of them seeking removal of Chief Secretary and an inquiry into shortfall of excise collections. The CM had then divested Karan Avtar of Excise and Taxation department. As Amarinder is also the Excise Minister of Punjab, Manpreet Badal’s raising a voice on the issue and targeting the Chief Secretary was seen as a revolt. Some in the party had even called it Manpreet Badal’s declaration of a war of succession as the Congress is yet to name number two leader in Punjab.
A close political aide of Chief Minister confirmed that Amarinder had spoken to Kishor after Delhi election. “At that time also the MLAs were asked if they wanted him because we did not want them to object to making the payments. Most of the MLAs were of the opinion that the party should sign Kishor. “