Election strategist Prashant Kishor had another round of what was effectively a job interview at the Delhi home of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today. Apart from the team that was to evaluate his proposal, there were two more leaders today — Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Ministers of the two last Congress-ruled states. A report on the matter is expected within 72 hours, the Congress said.
Today’s meeting — the fourth with Mr Kishor in recent days — was also attended by senior leaders Jairam Ramesh, Ambika Soni, KC Venugopal, and Mrs Gandhi.
After the meeting, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party is “evaluating” Prashant Kishore’s proposals. “Various others’ inputs are also being deliberated upon and a final report to be submitted within the next 72 hours to the Congress President,” he added.
While Mr Kishor — or PK — is known to be an election winner, his goals for the Congress include nothing less than the rejuvenation of the 137-year-old party that is practically facing a wipeout.
The Congress, thus, wants to take a collective decision, even though the final call will be taken by Sonia Gandhi.
Initially, most Congress leaders had played down the proposals of Mr Kishor, saying it was only a one-time proposal for Gujarat. Only later, Mr Kishor’s organisation IPAC said it involves the rejuvenation of the Congress and a strategy for the 2024 general elections. There is also the question of Mr Kishor’s entry to the party — talks for which fell through last year.
The wariness of the Congress stems from the big bang approach of Mr Kishor, which Gandhis feel might antagonize some leaders especially belonging to the Old Guard.
His entry had antagonized a section of Trinamool Congress, including Suvendu Adhikari, the then close aide of Mamata Banerjee, who then went on to join the BJP, carrying with him a chunk of party leaders.
In the Congress, the committee members told NDTV that Mr Kishor’s strength is data analysis and using it to the advantage of the party will be very useful. Still there is a chunk of dissenters who are not too keen on having the election strategist on board.
Mr Kishor’s entry is also seen as an extra encumbrance for the Gandhis, who are already facing dissent from a chunk of the party leadership.
“We have used others too and we have to see what needs to be done,” said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, known to be a Gandhi family loyalist.