Prashant Kishor Issues a Cautionary Statement Regarding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's UP Visit

The post comes amid a media frenzy surrounding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's visit to the family of farmers killed by a minister's car in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.

Prashant Kishor Issues a Cautionary Statement Regarding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's UP Visit
Prashant Kishor Issues a Cautionary Statement Regarding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's UP Visit

Prashant Kishor's latest tweet, alluding to the Congress's "deep-seated flaws," looks to be the latest sign of a widening gulf between the political strategist and India's main opposition party. The post comes amid a media frenzy surrounding Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi's visit to the family of farmers killed by a minister's car in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. Mr Kishor, however, appeared today to suggest the impact of the Gandhis' foray should be read with caution, pronouncing that:

Mr Kishor, who is 44, declared himself retired as an election strategist in May on the day that his client, Mamata Banerjee, won a lush victory in Bengal, defeating an all-or-nothing campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to end her run as Chief Minister.

Mr Kishor, having configured large parts of that big result for Ms Banerjee, said he was done with strategizing for politicians, though his organization, I-PAC would remain in business. Then came the news that he was in negotiations with the Gandhis to create a role within the Congress that would give him heft, power and responsibility in smacking it out of its long-running slump.

Many in the Congress feared that Mr Kishor's entry would further divide the party at a time when it is already fracturing - the "G-23," a group of senior leaders who have publicly demanded "visible" leadership from the Gandhis as well as urgent elections for all Congress posts, have repeatedly complained about decisions being made without their input, or indeed without any discussion - and more importantly, accountability- for the Gandhis, in particular for Priyanka Gandhi.

The fact that Mr Kishor's talks with the Gandhis were done directly aroused a lot of eyebrows. Then came the word that the talks had come to a halt. Mr Kishor desired complete control over the party's organisation. 

However, he is believed to have refused to be held accountable for the approaching state elections, which include the politically important state of Uttar Pradesh, because he claims he doesn't have enough time to change the party's course and take responsibility for this round of elections. Rahul Gandhi could not accept this.

Then there was the announcement by a top Congress politician in Goa that he was leaving the party to join Mamata Banerjee's. Mr Kishor, he alleged, had made the swap possible. Luizinho Faleiro remarked at a press conference, "He had, of course, approached me. Only a few days ago, "When asked if Mr Kishor had approached him about joining the party, he said the strategist had helped the party win an extremely difficult election against the BJP in Bengal in May.

"He didn't tell me to join the TMC but he did an analysis. People in Goa are angry with BJP. Mining has stopped. The economy is in a meltdown. There are no jobs. Goa is looking for an alternative. Didi is the only force. Despite the pressure, they abused her, used government agencies. The country needs a leader like Didi," he said.

Priyanka Gandhi has been appointed by Congress to take charge of Uttar Pradesh. On Sunday, the country's junior Home Minister, Ajay Mishra, was holding an event at which the Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya was to serve as the big draw. As Mr Mishra's convoy was heading to the location of the event, it passed a group of farmers who had gathered to demonstrate their opposition to the event as part of a nationwide pushback against three new farm laws introduced last year by the centre.

A black SUV sped up and collided with the farmers; the footage is difficult to watch because it captures the power with which the farmers were struck. Mr Mishra later stated that the automobile was his, but that his son, Ashish, was not driving it, which farmers claimed. 

He also claimed that the car's driver lost control after being bombarded with stones by the crowd, which is not supported by the video. Four farmers were killed, and four more, including a journalist, were killed in retaliation. 

The police have charged Mr Mishra's son with murder. He was available for interviews with television stations until a few days ago. Today, he was a no-show for his questioning by the cops who, last evening, posted a notice on the family home demanding he shows up for interrogation. The Gandhis' subsequent journey was fraught with drama. Priyanka Gandhi went to Lakhimpur Kheri, where the farmers were slaughtered, on Monday, but was held 450 kilometres away. 

She spent the night there, demonstrating her dissatisfaction with her captivity. She did a long interview because she had her phone with her, detailing the many flaws in the UP government's attempt to prevent her from visiting Lakhimpur Kheri. Her brother arrived in Lucknow on Wednesday. He refused to leave the airport after learning that he would have to use a UP police car to get to his sister. He was allowed to use his car after a brief confrontation.

The Gandhis met with the families of the farmers who had been slaughtered later that night. The incident, according to their followers, refutes the charge that the Gandhis are sporadic politicians with dubious instincts. Mr Kishor's assessment today shows that he disagrees and that the party need a total revamp before it can claim pole position in an anti-BJP coalition for the next general election in 2024. It also establishes that the Gandhis and "PK," as he is known, are not in a cooperative relationship. 

Hitting back at PK, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister reacted sharply to the comments in a tweet: "People looking for a "national" alternative based on poaching INC functionaries who can't win even their own seats is in for a big disappointment. Unfortunately, to become a national alternative deep-rooted and concerted efforts are needed and there are no quick- fix solutions. (sic)"