New Delhi: Congress leaders are asking why some of their colleagues are trying to get political strategists Prashant Kishor inducted to the party, considering the role he is playing for his present “mother party”, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), of strengthening its footprints in different states by damaging the Congress.
In the past few months, many senior Congress leaders across the country have joined the TMC with many more, especially in Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura, lined up to join Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the coming weeks. TMC sources said that at least 12 Congress MLAs from Meghalaya are going to join the TMC in the coming days.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to three senior Congress functionaries (none of them a part of the G-23 or the 23 senior leaders who have written to party president Sonia Gandhi, seeking overhaul of the party’s way of functioning) on the recent developments of party leaders leaving Congress and joining the TMC.
According to one leader, the party leadership (Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi-Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) should be “wary” of Kishor until he is able to prove his loyalty to the party. “Last week, an English news channel and English daily ran a story that the decision to install a Dalit leader as the Chief Minister of Punjab was given to Rahul Gandhi by Kishor. Who gave them this false input? One can guess the source of this news. Another fake narrative was constantly being put out in public that Kanhaiya Kumar and his team were dependent on Kishor to meet Rahul Gandhi. Why is such fiction being spread? To dent the public perception about Rahul Gandhi?” the leader asked.
According to another leader, on the one hand, stories are being published in the media that Kishor would be open to working for Congress provided he is given a senior post, while on the other hand, he is playing a key role in breaking away Congress leaders for the benefit of the TMC. “How will those Congress leaders, who want to induct him, explain these actions? Rather than strengthening the Congress, he is weakening it. There are a number of Congress leaders who have joined the TMC, entry to which was facilitated by Kishor,” he told this newspaper on the sidelines of the joining of Kanhaiya Kumar and other young faces into the Congress on 28 September in New Delhi.
According to sources, close to 100 functionaries of Kishor’s consultancy firm, I-PAC are working in Goa for the TMC for the last two months in view of the upcoming 2022 Assembly elections. “The TMC will not win a single seat there, it knows this, but it is still fighting there. Why? Whose vote bank will they cut into? Not the BJP’s. It will dent the Congress’ chances. The I-PAC is working to induct Congress leaders into the TMC fold; all this will hurt the Congress. Is he (Prashant Kishor) doing all this to prove how effective a political strategist he is?” asked a Congress leader, while referring to the induction of Luizinho Faleiro, former Goa CM, into the TMC,. In fact, Faleiro himself accepted on Thursday that he was first approached by Kishor to leave the Congress and join the TMC.
Among the Congress leaders who have joined the TMC in the last few months are Sushmita Dev, senior West Bengal leader Om Prakash Mishra, Congress MLA from Baduria, Qazi Abdur Rahim, apart from seven senior Congress leaders of Tripura, including minister Prakash Chandra Das, who had joined the TMC in July this year. Incidentally, when former Congress spokesperson and now a Rajya Sabha member, Priyanka Chaturvedi, had moved to the Shiv Sena in April 2019, Kishor was working for the Shiv Sena. Another Congress MLA from Farakka in West Bengal, Mainul Haque, too, is likely to join the TMC.
“The trio (Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) trusted an outsider in Punjab (referring to Navjot Singh Sidhu) and look what has happened there. All of Sidhu’s wishes were fulfilled and yet he backstabbed the party for his personal interest, and also managed to drive away a leader like Amarinder Singh from the party. We are looking like political amateurs now. What will stop Prashant Kishor doing the same to us? Rahul Gandhi is fishing in troubled waters and looking for outsiders to help him tide over the crisis despite having a team of experienced leaders within the party,” a party MP complained.