Will electoral strategist Kishor’s entry change TN political scenario?

File photo of Prashant Kishor.

Chennai: Prashant Kishor and his firm Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), popular in north Indian power circles, may soon become familiar with Tamilnadu politicians, too, with the ruling AIADMK reportedly deciding to use the services of the electoral strategist.

If sources are to be believed, Chief Minister and AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was in New Delhi during the weekend to attend the Niti Aayog meet, had a meeting with Kishor.

“The AIADMK, though managed to retain power in the State by winning nine seats in the by-elections held for 22 Assembly constituencies, faced defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. Hence, it has been advised by its Delhi friends to make use of the services of I-PAC for the 2021 Assembly polls. If everything goes well, Prashant Kishor and his team may soon start working for their TN client,” say sources.

Kishor, credited with helping Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win an absolute majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, is also said to be one of the reasons behind the recent electoral success of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2015.

The strategist joined the JD(U) in 2018 and was made its vice-president. Recently, he met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee amid reports that his services would be utilised by the Trinamool Congress to fight the BJP.

“A couple of years back, even the DMK was keen to hire Kishor. But that did not materialise. With less than two years left for Assembly polls in Tamilnadu, the AIADMK feels this is the right time to rope in I-PAC,” sources add.

If this happens, a different ballgame awaits Kishor, as politics in Tamilnadu is totally different, compared to other States of India.

WHO AND WHY?
Born in 1977, Kishor is a public health expert by qualification. He worked for the United Nations for eight years. The first-ever election strategy he devised was for Narendra Modi, when he was contesting for the Gujarat Chief Minister’s post for the third consecutive time in the 2012 Assembly elections. And, that was his first victory as a strategist.

The next campaign for Kishor was a big one – the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Ahead of the polls, Kishor founded the Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG), a media and publicity firm. Kishor was credited with formulating an innovative campaign for Modi — the Chai pe Charcha discussions, 3D rallies, Run for Unity and social media programmes.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times, said Kishor was one of the most important people in Modi’s team driving strategies for months before 2014 elections. Kishor then parted ways with Modi and converted the CAG into a specialist policy outfit, Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC).

 

YOUTH MANAGERS
In 2017, I-PAC had sought applications from Tamilnadu youngsters to be hired as ‘constituency managers’ and ‘political media managers’. The constituency managers will ‘manage election campaign for a constituency’ and political media managers will ‘develop media feedback structure for campaigns’.

 

M Bhaskar Sai