In 2019, simply after the Lok Sabha elections, I used to be amongst a gaggle of journalists ready exterior the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Bhavan in Kolkata. I caught a glimpse of a black automotive that went inside and its occupant. I had first seen Prashant Kishor again in 2015, when he helped Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) win the state elections in coalition with the Rashtriya Janata Dal. I used to be questioning what he was doing on the TMC Bhavan. I labored the telephones and learnt that he was all set to tie up with chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s occasion.
Next day, it was everywhere in the information. His entry in Bengal occurred within the backdrop of an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) profitable 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.
I saved on attempting to achieve PK, as he’s known as in political and journalists’ circles, and at last obtained an appointment for an interview. In a casual dialog that adopted, he instructed me he was only a facilitator and would assist the TMC strategise. He stated his job was to make methods, to not give tv bytes.
When the BJP tried to nook the TMC in its marketing campaign for the 2021 meeting elections over lower cash (fee) and the chanting of “Jai Shri Ram”, Kishor responded with the “Didi Ke Bolo” programme. People in misery might name a quantity to instantly attain Banerjee. The points could be resolved rapidly, promised the ruling occasion. This was an enormous hit.
Specific duties had been assigned to occasion leaders, who had been requested to remain in villages and spend time of their constituencies. The intention was to strengthen the grassroots join. When there have been allegations that intermediaries had been making the TMC unpopular, he recommended eradicating them so as to create a direct connection between Banerjee and the plenty.
Even because the BJP tried to consolidate Hindu votes, Kishor suggested the TMC to go along with a improvement agenda. The extra the BJP tried intensifying its marketing campaign, the extra Kishor got here up with campaigns akin to “Banglar Garbo Mamata (Mamata is Bengal’s pride)”. Meanwhile, Banerjee launched her much-talked-about medical insurance coverage scheme, “Swasthyo Sathi”. Her “Duare Sarkar” drive for doorstep supply of advantages of the federal government’s schemes too was strategised by Kishor.
With the BJP sending the large weapons for campaigning, the TMC centered on the road that “Bangla Nijer Meyeke Chaye (Bengal wants its own daughter)” to strike a join.
From Dalit outreach to projecting the Bengal polls as a key element within the political battle in opposition to the Centre’s BJP, Kishor labored around the clock to provide the TMC an edge. Even earlier than the campaigning and ballot rush reached the crescendo, Kishor maintained in December that the BJP wouldn’t cross the 100-mark within the state with 294 seats. He was proper in his prediction.
While Kishor obtained busy in methods, it was Abhishek Banerjee, the chief minister’s nephew, who led from the entrance in implementing them. There is a buzz that it was Abhishek who introduced in Kishor. But the 33-year-old MP has a nuanced reply prepared. He instructed me in an exclusive interview mid-April that it was the occasion’s determination.
With Kishor’s arrival, the very system of appointing observers for districts was dropped, and a core committee was made with seven members, together with Abhishek. At the identical time, this put Abhishek within the crosshairs with a bit of leaders objecting to the brand new system.
In the News18 interview, he had hit out at leaders who had give up the TMC to hitch the BJP, together with former minister Suvendu Adhikari. Nevertheless, Abhishek tried to place an finish to faction fights by talking on to leaders concerned. He additionally tried to provoke dialogue with Adhikari, however that didn’t work out.
Abhishek, focused by the BJP over alleged corruption prices, was on the forefront of the “Didi Ke Bolo” and “Bangla Nijer Meyeke Chaye” campaigns, monitoring them and taking fixed suggestions from native leaders. He was the second busiest campaigner within the TMC ranks (after the CM), whereas he additionally managed the backstage in coordination with Kishor. Their chemistry labored.
In the interview, Abhishek instructed me that he wished to work in the direction of the strengthening the occasion organisation and didn’t need to turn into the deputy chief minister for the following “20 years”. “I am not into the business of fortune-telling. I live one day at a time,” he stated, once I requested him how issues will form up within the close to future.