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Congress likely to get Prashant Kishor on board

Prashant Kishor (right) after leading Nitish Kumar’s campaign in the Bihar elections last year, is expected to lead the Congress campaign in Punjab. According to Congress leaders, Kishor has agreed in principle to work for Captain Amarinder Singh’s campaign. Photo: PTIPremium
Prashant Kishor (right) after leading Nitish Kumar’s campaign in the Bihar elections last year, is expected to lead the Congress campaign in Punjab. According to Congress leaders, Kishor has agreed in principle to work for Captain Amarinder Singh’s campaign. Photo: PTI

Prashant Kishor may lead the campaign for former Punjab CM and senior Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh

New Delhi: After successfully steering the electoral campaign of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar last year, political strategist Prashant Kishor may take charge of the Congress’ campaign in next year’s Punjab election. “Most likely, yes," a person aware of development said when asked if Kishor will lead the election campaign for former Punjab chief minister and senior Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh. According to senior Congress leaders, at least three rounds of meetings have already taken place between Singh and Kishor where the latter has all but formally agreed.

“In principle, he has agreed to work for Captain’s campaign and is most likely to start working from April-end or May. The only thing left is now to decide when to make an announcement about it. One round of meeting is still left which will most likely happen in February in which we will give a final shape to proposal," a senior Congress leader involved in Singh’s campaign said. “The brief is to form a campaign which fits the requirements of the state and a lot of focus will be on people to people campaign," the leader quoted above added.

Kishor’s association with the Congress won’t be new. He came into the limelight while working with the party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi. He was a part of the core team working on developmental issues in Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency, Amethi. Top Congress leaders point out that Kishor has been on “friendly terms" with Gandhi for nearly four years, even when he was handling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign.

A native of Bihar, Kishor was earlier working as a health expert for a programme of the United Nations in Africa in 2011 until he returned to India and joined the election campaign of Modi. He is credited with organizing the popular “Chai Pe Charcha" campaign for Modi.

Kishor successfully led the campaign team for Kumar and came up with several communication strategies including “har ghar dastak" (knock on every door) strategy which helped Kumar as well as leaders of the Janata Dal (United) to reach out directly to the voters in Bihar.

Singh’s campaign is going to be equally, or more challenging for Kishor, given that the Congress chief is not an incumbent, unlike Kumar. The contest is also likely, for the first time, to be a three-cornered one following the decision of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to contest the election in Punjab, ruled by a coalition between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“It will be an interesting contest between Prashant Kishor and AAP. Every state has a peculiar political environment, caste, religion and deras or sects play an important role in election," said Rabinder Nath Sharma, a Chandigarh-based political analyst and former associate professor at Panjab University. “AAP made its presence felt in Punjab by organising a public rally during maghi mela this month. The campaign strategy of Kishor and AAP are very similar because both use people-to-people contact, posters, slogans, social media and radio in their campaign," Sharma said.

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