Election strategist Prashant Kishor (PK), who had emerged as India’s first professional campaign manager in the run-up to the 2014 general elections, where he was closely involved with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is going through challenging times. Right now, Kishor, who was credited with helping Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) win the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, after which he was engaged by the Congress for its campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab polls, only has one party as his client—the YSR Congress Party or Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party. He is “helping” the YSR Congress Party through his Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC).
I-PAC is working on building up the party’s Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as a popular political brand and has coined a slogan, “Raavali Jagan, Kaavali Jagan” (want Jagan to come, need Jagan for prosperity) to help Jagan win in Andhra Pradesh where elections are due in May 2019. People familiar with the functioning of I-PAC said that a big “team” of I-PAC, which had aggressively recruited young graduates last year by offering them lucrative salaries, is now functioning with a small team of around 50 people. This was was close to 200 when Kishor was working in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
A source within I-PAC said: “Prashant Kishor has even told us not to take this as a permanent job and see this as a learning phase where we will also get paid good salaries. Many of our colleagues have left, many are already searching for newer opportunities. We do not blame Prashant Kishor for anything. In Punjab, where our client won, the credit was usurped by local leaders and in UP, where our client lost, the responsibility was fixed on us.”
Despite elections being held in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, Kishor’s services were not sought by any political party and the chances of him being offered an opportunity in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh or Karnataka, where elections are due in less than 12 months, are almost negligible.