Prashant Kishor tells Rahul Gandhi in secret report: Congress can't win UP
Prashant Kishor was hailed as the architect of Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha victory in 2014, and as the man behind Nitish Kumar's facile win in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls. But the master poll strategist now faces the biggest challenge of his career - resuscitating the Congress for next year's Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Kishor took over the reins of the Congress poll strategy in February, and has been camping in the state ever since. However, reports suggest he's facing hurdles at every level - the Congress is almost non-existent at the grassroots.
Now, a confidential report prepared by Kishor has surfaced. In it, he tells Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that the party faces grim prospects in the elections, flagging several reasons for the party's dilapidated condition.
Rahul is currently on a Kisan Yatra in the state.
Salient points of the report
- The Congress is over dependent on Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. This has created a void of leadership in the state party unit.
- The party has a plethora of leaders in the state committee. However, there is an acute shortage of committed ground-level Congress workers, resulting in the considerable weakening of the organisation at the lower levels.
- The Congress has very few mass leaders with wide acceptability in the state. The party leadership has failed to cultivate local leadership.
- Not a single state Congress leader is capable of undisputedly carrying along all party factions. The party lacks young leaders, as the leadership has failed to groom young and belligerent leaders.
- Rampant factionalism within the party has weakened it.
- The Congress does not have a clear strategy to counter the casteist politics of the dominant regional parties. There is no leader to effectively forge a favourable social engineering formula for the party.
- The Congress has failed to understand the mood of the Muslim voters and win their trust.
- The youth wing of the Congress has proved to be inefficient. There are no serious efforts to attract the young electorate.
- The Congress has failed to formulate a long-term plan to capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor.
- The frontal organisations of the party are redundant in the state. They remain only on paper. The party organisation has consistently failed to build mass movements against the government.
- The Congress has failed to unite farmers and labourers against the Modi government and Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party government in the state.
'One booth, one youth'
Kishor has entrusted the local Congress leaders with the responsibility of providing 20 young leaders in every Assembly constituency. He is also working to identify at least one young activist in each of over 1.25 lakh polling booths in the state.
These foot soldiers would be given the task of deciding the party strategy at the booth level.
Eyeing 200 seats
The Congress is focussing on 200 Assembly seats in the upcoming elections, if a source close to Kishor is to be believed. These are the constituencies where the party is hoping to put up a serious fight. A strategy is being devised at every level to select candidates for these seats.
According to sources, the candidates who had won the previous elections, or ended as runners-up, would be preferred.
The other candidates would be chosen based on the demand emanating from the local party units, or considering their winnability.
The winning candidates in panchayat elections would also be probables as candidates in their constituencies. The party is also weighing the option of allying with parties like JD (U) and Peace Party.
There is speculation that the party might be willing to concede around 100 seats to its alliance partners. The final decision in this regard has been left to Rahul Gandhi.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
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