Prashant Kishor and the Congress may have ended their negotiations about the former joining the party, but according to at least two senior leaders , the party will look to implement several of the suggestions and insights that were made by the election strategist during a series of meetings and presentations to the top leadership of the party. The party is looking to focus on better analytics and data generation before the 2024 elections and may hire professionals who can help it do this ahead of the 2024 general elections, they added.
Meanwhile, a person familiar with happenings on both sides said the door was still open for a deal, and that Kishor and the Congress may well revive their discussions after the Gujarat elections.
There were other suggestions in the meetings as well that have widespread support within the party.
”In one of the slides that he showed, he told us that apparently, we gave tickets to 170-odd candidates that lost thrice from the same seat,’’ said one of the two persons cited above who attended one of Kishor’s presentations. ”We were astounded; I may know that about my state but this is not information that anyone in the party now has for the entire country.”
This person said that the Congress will try and hire people who can help it with such data because building a similar database on its own will take at least a couple of years.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram confirmed that the presentations showed that the election strategist had good data and analytics. “Several points were actionable and we intend to do that,” he said.
“I hope the party implements some of the reforms. I have only seen some of the suggestions made by PK that are in public domain, said Praveen Chakravarty, who as the head of Congress’s data team set up the Shakti app feedback system ahead of the 2019 elections. “They seem sensible — such as the need for fresh and young faces, one-family-one-ticket. I also agree that party leaders should use data more objectively, and not selectively only when it suits them.”
It was not clear what the action plan was to implement some of the suggestions.
But what has become clearer a day later is that there is a lot of dissatisfaction about the manner in which the entire negotiation played out. “PK has spoken to so many parties before this but did we have them announcing details of the meetings or giving a blow-by-blow account?” asked one of the senior leaders. The party is now playing down the fact that for 10 days, Sonia Gandhi’s residence was the venue for all these negotiations. They are at pains to emphasise that she didn’t participate in all these meetings.
Other leaders insist it is wrong to assume that Kishor turned down the Congress — which is what spokesperson and general secretary Randeep Surjewala’s statement about the party making an offer to the election strategist suggested .
”The Congress needed to invest in a more radical change and perhaps it felt that this (Kishor joining the party) was not necessary,’’ said Pavan Varma, Trinamool leader and a close friend of Kishor.
But in their official press conference, the Congress played it down: “The party is in the process of making changes and we will definitely make the necessary changes to meet the aspirations of the workers and leaders. Congress party is bigger than one individual whether it is Rahul Gandhi or not… In every nook and corner, in every village and town, Congress has created an identity for itself through its values and principles,’’ said spokesman Pawan Khera.