Congress chief Sonia Gandhi forms panel to check on Prashant Kishor's strategy paper for 2024 polls

In a three-hour presentation, Kishor outlined the mistakes the party has been making and presented an alternative plan that could help the party succeed at the hustings.
Election strategist Prashant Kishor (File Photo | Facebook)
Election strategist Prashant Kishor (File Photo | Facebook)

NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has formed a three-member committee comprising party veterans AK Antony, Ambika Soni and Mallikarjun Kharge to examine election strategist Prashant Kishor's strategy paper for contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The committee has been asked to submit its report in a week.

Kishor had made a three-hour presentation at Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence on April 16. It was attended by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, General secretary Priyanka Gandhi, and senior leaders AK Antony, Ambika Soni, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh, Mukul Wasnik, KC Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh and Ajay Maken, besides the Congress president.

In the presentation, Kishor outlined the mistakes the party has been making and presented an alternative plan that could help the party succeed at the hustings.

Among his suggestions was to focus party resources on winnable seats, which he said were only 370 out of Lok Sabha's total strength of 543. He said Congress is a great product which lacks proper marketing. He was particularly critical of the party's media strategy.

He brushed aside the rising communal polarization as an insignificant issue and said it could be countered by galvanizing and empowering workers at the booth level. He said the party should fight on its own in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and enter into alliance in states like Andhra, Telangana, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

After the presentation, Sonia asked the leaders about their opinion on the presentation. Sources said Digvijay Singh and AK Antony appeared not very impressed by the proposal. Digvijay said this is exactly what the party had said after its last two chintan shivirs at Pachmarhi and Shimla. Antony said most of the points mentioned in the proposal were similar to those he had mentioned in his report after the party's loss in 2014.

The response of others was muted. But Jairam Ramesh was full of praise for the ideas presented by Kishor and said they were worth trying.

Kishor faced an awkward moment during the meeting. When he referred to media reports about his appointment as Congress general secretary, and said he is not hankering after any party position, Kharge cut him off and said "PK, didn't you come to me asking me to recommend you to be made Congress vice-president."

After the meeting Congress leaders said it was now certain that Kishor would join the party. He may, however, not get the number two slot in the party. Going by what Kharge said during the meeting and what key party functionaries feel, Kishor had been bargaining for a post next to only the Congress president. He is reportedly keen on reporting only to the Congress president.

Congress sources said some leaders were of the view that before giving him full responsibility of strategizing the 2024 general elections, he should be asked to prove the efficacy of his plan in the impending state elections.

"Elections are due in over a dozen states before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Congress holds a little over 400 seats out of the 1500 plus seats in these states. Let him first help the party improve its tally in these states before taking a big bite," said a senior Congress leader.

Kishor has already announced that he would be part of a political party by May 2, when his sabbatical ends.


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