Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been roped in by the Congress for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to revive its floundering fortunes in the state, has had to face a lot of heat from senior Congress leaders in Kanpur.
Kishor, who had earlier expressed his desire to reach out to Brahmins in the state, quietly reached Kanpur late at night on 12 May, to address a 'Brahmin meeting', and ignored the other senior leaders completely.
As soon as party workers got wind of this, they reached the venue and expressed their dissatisfaction over Kishor's decision to ignore them.
Meeting for Brahmins, but attended by Thakurs, Muslims and RSS members
The so-called meeting for Brahmins wasn't just for them. Muslims, Thakurs and some RSS members were also present at the meeting, presided over by Kishor.
The move irked senior leaders as well as the party workers, and they gheraoed him at the end of the meeting.
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"Kishor will face disappointment if he goes on like this"
Speaking to Catch, a senior Congress leader said, "We weren't invited in the meeting. I am a Brahmin too and a senior leader as well. But instead of me, Kishor preferred to invite people who were non-Brahmins in the Brahmin meeting."
"There were land mafias, RSS leaders and anti-Congress leaders as well in the meeting. I don't know how Kishor decided to meet them, when he knows nothing about the Congress' equation in Kanpur and nearby regions. He should have consulted senior leaders. If he goes on like this, he will definitely face disappointment in 2017," he added.
What really irked the leaders?
Senior Congress leaders (all Brahmins) like Badri Narayan Tiwari, senior Congress leader, Har Prakash Agnihotri, president of Congress, Kanpur, Nek Chandra Pandey, former Congress MLA, Anil Sharma, former Kanpur mayor, Shailendra Shukla, Congress leader etc weren't called for the meeting.
"When PK had called a meeting for Brahmins then why were we ignored? Aren't we Brahmins? We are really angry with the immaturity shown by such a poll strategist. If it really was a meeting for Brahmins, then what were Hafiz Mohammad Umar (former MLA) and Abhijeet Singh Sangha, who is a Thakur and RSS members doing in the meeting?" asked a Congress leader.
"I wasn't aware of the meeting"
"Being the president, I was expecting a notification about the meeting, but I came to know about all this after Kishor had left the city. I don't know what to say as I am still unaware of the developments," said Har Prakash Agnihotri.
According to party sources, some senior Congress leaders are planning to oppose Kishor publicly when he is Lucknow next. It is being alleged that some former Janta Dal leaders have misguided Kishor, and party workers believe that Kishor's strategy will fail this time if he doesn't introspect.
Former UP police officer draws attention
According to party sources, PK Mishra, retired Circle Officer from the UP Police, was reportedly present in the meeting too. His presence has drawn a lot of attention from various political leaders, as the cop is known for his encounters and closeness with different political parties.
"He is very close to Naresh Agarwal, senior Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader. He is also expecting an MLA ticket from the Samajwadi Party due to his connections within the party. He is a man who goes with the tide. What was he doing in a Congress meeting is still unknown," said a source.
Complaint sent to Rahul Gandhi
Catch has accessed a letter which has been sent to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, in which Congress leader Shailedra Pandey has complained against Prashant Kishor for his decision of trusting people who don't have a good reputation in political circles and ignoring party leaders who work sincerely for the party.