The master strategist who has managed to seamlessly move from one end of the political spectrum to the other, scripting historic wins for the left and the right, is now reportedly finding it tough to settle down at the Centre. Sources say Prashant Kishor, who has been given the task of managing the grand old party’s manoeuvres in Uttar Pradesh, had a tough time getting his bills cleared from the Congress treasury.
PK reportedly raised a bill running into more than a couple of crores recently, but when it was presented to Motilal Vohra, the veteran leader asked for it to be cut by half. Grudgingly, PK obliged only to be asked to further slash it down by another fifty percent. Vohra, sources say, agreed to process one-fourth of the original amount, that too in instalments.
|Can the Congress afford to put a price on Prashant Kishor's contribution? Photo credit: PTI|
The incident is just one in a series of similar occurrences that highlight the Congress leadership’s (barring the Gandhis) growing discomfort with PK. While he’s said to have Rahul Gandhi’s ear, other veteran leaders are reportedly not too happy with him taking charge.
Some senior leaders, who have been given a crucial role to play in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, feel PK is sending out mixed signals to party workers and grassroots politicians. There have even been questions about whether he will have a say in ticket distribution. While senior leaders rubbish the possibility of that happening, they say he’s trying to go beyond his mandate and "project" a far more important role for himself.
Even when it comes to media management and publicity, a few Congress leaders feel, PK and his Indian Political Awareness Committee, are more focussed on building their brand than the Congress party's. He may be turning down requests for TV interviews but his closeness with many editors has ensured that he’s promptly given credit for the success of road-shows and public meetings that see a large turnout. So much so that a group of young Congress leaders who had trooped down to Varanasi before Sonia Gandhi’s road show felt that he was taking credit for their work.
Even as Congress leaders struggle to fit PK in a box, they do admit that he’s managed to mobilise some enthusiasm about the party’s prospects in the upcoming Assembly elections. Whether it’s the early announcement of its chief-ministerial candidate, megarallies or even the not-so-talked-about Kisan Yatra, PK has managed to ensure the party’s footprint on the ground.
As the political strategist tries to pull Rahul Gandhi out of the role of a "party-time" politician and the Congress out of years of indifference in UP, he’s hoping to capture a large chunk of the disillusioned Muslim votes, moderate Brahmin votes and a section of Dalit votes with his early start.
Can the Congress then afford to put a price on his contribution and for how long will he be willing to play along with slashed budgets? That’s something that the grand old party and the new-age Chanakya will have to work out.