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Why Prashant Kishor's 'Ghar Wapsi' to Modi looks imminent

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 11 June 2018, 18:33 IST
(Arya Sharma)


The 'Ghar Wapsi' of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his IPAC team to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears imminent as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls approach. Sources say that things are fast moving in this direction and it is a foregone conclusion among the opposition parties as well as BJP leadership at local levels.

There were speculations on this front first raised in February this year with reports appearing in a section of the media pointing to the possibility of Kishor and his team reverting to the BJP with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party's national president Amit Shah at the helm. Reports at that time pointed to meetings between Modi and Kishor.

Sources say that even Amit Shah who is said to be responsible for Kishor parting ways with Modi after the 2014 polls that had brought the BJP into majority under Modi, is not averse to the move at this point of time as the party is worried about its fledgling support base and the allies being miffed with the party.

Sources said that the ground work for the 'Ghar Wapsi' has begun and even the recruitment for the purpose has begun for the control room that will be in Delhi this time. Kishor had joined hands with Modi ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2012 to devise a strategy for the BJP's poll campaign. He crafted a campaign showing Modi as a face of good governance and administration who was being victimised by the central government led by the Congress by giving a 'step motherly' treatment to Gujarat.

Thereafter he had hired a huge team large constituting pass outs from premier institutes like the IITs and IIMs besides engaging those employed with multinational companies to sell the 'Modi brand' across India. This was done through 3D shows and a well crafted social media strategy besides other innovative techniques introduced for the first time in poll strategy in India like 'Chai pe charcha' etc.

All this had paid off well with the BJP coming into power with majority and Modi ascending to the office of the Prime Minister. But Kishor soon parted ways with the BJP to take on the assignment of developing a poll strategy for the Nitish Kumar led 'Mahagathbandhan' in Bihar where he was able to contribute to the alliance making Modi and Shah bite the dust.

This caught the fancy of the then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the then Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh who is the now the chief minister. From Bihar, Kishor was roped in for preparing the poll strategy for Punjab. This was his first full time assignment for the Congress and working in what is known as 'Congress culture' was not an easy job, especially under a heavyweight like Amarinder.

The relationship between the two blew hot and cold with Amarinder on various occasions where Amarinder was quick to snub whenever there was an attempt to cross boundaries from preparing a poll strategy to meddling in organisational affairs. One such occasion was when Kishor held parleys with expelled Congress leaders Bir Devinder Singh and Jagmeet Singh Brar. Again it was Amarinder who put his foot down when it came to distribution of tickets as he ignored the surveys carried out by Kishor's team to give majority of the tickets based on his own calculations. Amarinder also brought in his own team for media management that proved to be far more effective.

But Kishor did play an important role in the Congress' victory. He introduced campaigns like 'Coffee with Captain' to woo the youth on the lines of 'Chai pe charcha' that he had done for Modi. The campaign worked despite coffee never being a favoured drink of the Punjabis. “The twitter and Facebook campaigns along with the catchy programmes like 'Har ghar Captain' which was somewhat like 'Har har Modi, Ghar ghar Modi',” said an observer.

Kishor's stint in Punjab did not end on a very cordial note. “His campaigns did help in electoral benefits but the Congress leaders are now being hounded by the people on the very same issues on which the government has failed to deliver. The biggest one of them is the promise made for distributing smart phones to the unemployed youth. This is the first issue raised by the people wherever the Congress leaders go. Kishor was made due payments for the services rendered by the Congress but there is still a dispute on the voter data which is still in his possession. If it is not resolved the same data might turn out to be an asset for the BJP in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls as it contains the minutest details about each constituency with regards to the voters, issues etc.,” sources said.

Sources added that all this, Amarinder was the one who helped Kishor bag the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand poll assignments by put in a word for him to Rahul Gandhi. But Kishor did not deliver in both these states. Thereafter his organisation was engaged by YS Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh for the 2019 Assembly polls.

Observers say that much water has flowed between 2014 and 2018 as far as Modi, Shah and BJP are concerned. While Modi remains a brand for his followers, his party is jittery about the 2019 polls with the Opposition trying to come together on a common platform. The BJP does not have much to showcase on the ground as far as economic indicators and rising unemployment are concerned.

The free run that the Hindutva fringe groups have enjoyed across India targeting minorities and Dalits accompanied by Modi's stubborn silence on issues like insecurity among the minorities, cow vigilantism coupled with his party men shooting their mouths off on sensitive issues have dented his image even abroad. Things have changed or in fact come full circle. The jokes that targeted Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are now on Modi.

Social media which was once the strongest weapon of the BJP is now turning out to be his bane as there has been a counter attack coming not only from the political opposition but rationalists, academics, activists and common people as well. The BJP's IT cell is making headlines for the all the wrong reasons. Fake news from all corners is being exposed instantaneously. The BJP friendly media's credibility is at an all time low.

In such a scenario, the party desperately needs a well planned exhaustive image building exercise. This is a reason good enough to rope in Kishor once again. But will he be able to deliver in 2019 as in 2014? Only time will tell.


First published: 11 June 2018, 18:33 IST