NEW DELHI: As the Congress decided to not take up Prashant Kishor‘s offer to execute his version of transformational reforms in the party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders mocked the beleaguered Congress’s effort to salvage the party before the 2024 general elections.
“If the product is bad, no matter how good a salesman may be or claim to be, you can’t sell the product of parivarvad (dynasty politics) past its expiry date,” BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said, describing the Congress’s unsuccessful attempt to involve election strategist Prashant Kishor.
The party’s agenda is “parivar bachao (save the family) not party bachao (save the party)” and that is why they were “perturbed” by Kishor’s suggestions on transformational and structural reforms within the party, Poonawala told news channel India Today.
BJP spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan made a similar point and questioned Prashant Kishor’s credentials as well, saying it was the media that had turned him into a celebrity.
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“Political parties use vendors during elections, and he is a vendor. You can check his track record, he has lost in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other places… The biggest question here is whether Congress has a leadership deficit. The party has to hire people from outside,” Paswan said.
Tuesday’s announcement by the Congress and Prashant Kishor came 10 days after Kishor made a formal presentation to the Congress; held almost daily consultations with the top leadership, including chief ministers who were flown down to Delhi to meet the poll strategist; and rampant speculation on what role he would be given in the party.
Prashant Kishor has always maintained that he cannot effectively help the Congress if he is not given a free hand. But the Congress was only willing to let him be a member of a strategy group Empowered Action Group, or EAG.
People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the deal fell through because of four reasons: Kishor’s insistence that he would only report to party president Sonia Gandhi; his demand for use of data in choice of candidates, which effectively meant a free hand; his view on alliances with regional parties; and his desire to focus on the parliamentary elections in 2024, not the state elections this year or next.
On Twitter, Kishor described the Congress offer as ‘generous’, but also explained why he turned down the invitation to become a Congressman. “In my humble opinion, more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep-rooted structural problems through transformational reforms,” Kishor, who was once inducted into Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) as a vice-president, said in a tweet. He was and former diplomat Pavan Varma were expelled by JD (U) in January 2020.