India’s most sought after poll strategist Prashant Kishor has these days become the voice of ‘opposition’ in the Janata Dal (United), one of the key allies of the BJP. He has not only been consistently speaking out against CAA and NRC, but has also openly voiced his disagreement with his party’s decision to vote in favour of the amended citizenship legislation in Parliament. In an interview to Rajesh Kumar Thakur, Kishor says peaceful non-cooperation can prevent the implementation of CAA and NRC in the country. Excerpts:
Why are you dead against CAA and NRC?
First of all, let it be known to all that I’m not a politician by temperament but a poll strategist by profession. What makes me work for politicians is a desire to direct the flow of today’s politics towards an era of politics for prosperity, performance and peace with equality and empowerment.
As far as NRC or CAA is concerned, neither empowers the people. The CAA, together with NRC, can turn into a lethal combo in the hands of the government to systematically discriminate and even prosecute people based on religion. I have been saying this continuously and will continue to make people aware.
You were the first in JD-U who protested against the party’s support for the amended citizenship Bill during voting in Parliament. Were you not consulted earlier, as you are also the poll strategist of JD-U, besides being its vice-president?
This is not the ripe time to say anything on it but still, I’ll say that the JD-U leadership should have had spared a thought for all those who reposed their faith and trust in it in 2015.
Are you sure that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will not implement the NRC in Bihar?
Hope so and it is now up to Nitish Kumar ji how he handles it. What I felt or still feel is right, I suggest or share (with him).
You had worked with Narendra Modi for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Do you think either the CAA or the NRC will help the BJP in the polls in future?
It will not be easy at all for the BJP to sail smoothly in 2024 LS elections on the basis of CAA or the NRC. The people of India will no longer get convinced with the argument that no nation-wide NRC has been announced. The country is not ready and I think should never be ready at all to welcome the NRC, which is nothing but a kind “demonetisation of citizenships”. A botched-up NRC will leave millions of people branded as declared foreigners in their own country.
Will the campaign by the Congress against CAA-NRC help it politically?
As I had tweeted, the Congress has not been on the streets and its top leadership has largely been absent in the citizens’ fight against CAA-NRC. It will be better if the Congress CMs officially declare ‘NO’ to NRC. “Ye jo public hai sab jaanti hai” (The people know everything)!
You are working in West Bengal for TMC and are now in agreement with the AAP for Delhi elections. Both these are anti-NDA parties while JD-U is a partner in the ruling alliance. How is this contradiction possible?
Let me make it clear that a company called I-PAC works with the party upon being asked… It should notify be co-related with my affiliation to JD-U.
You worked for Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and are now going to prepare the poll strategy for AAP. Has it not damaged your personal relationship with Modi, Kumar or others?
Not at all! As an individual, I maintain a very good relationship with all. I don’t let my personal relationship get affected by the electoral expertise I share through I-PAC.
You tweets of have been political in nature. Any ambition to join active politics in future?
Please don’t read anything between the lines. There is no hidden agenda. I just share the expertise and strategic knowledge I have with the help of my team members. But now it’s difficult for any politician to mislead people by empty rhetoric and promises.
The violence during anti-CAA/NRC protests rocked the country. How do you justify it?
I believe in the ideology of non-violence. I don’t justify violence of any kind in support of or against anything in a democratic country like India… I had suggested two effective ways to stop the implementation of CAA and NRC — by peacefully raising voice on all platforms and secondly, by ensuring that most, if not all, of the 16-non BJP chief ministers say no to NRC in their states.
‘No 50-50 formula, but one-fourth ratio’
Seat-sharing for 2020 Assembly elections should be done in 1:4 ratio, as was the case in 2009, or 2010 should become the basis of seat division instead of the 50 per cent understanding followed so far by the state’s ruling allies, said JD-U vice-president Prashant Kishor in Patna
JD-U vice-president and poll strategist