India

Disquiet in Cong. as Prashant Kishor briefs top leaders for third day

File photo of Prashant Kishor.

File photo of Prashant Kishor. | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

As election strategist Prashant Kishor briefed top Congress leaders for a third a time in the past four days at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the sense of disquiet among a section of leaders is growing.

On Tuesday, Mr. Kishor is said to have made presentations to senior leaders, including former Madhya Pradesh Chief Ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, A.K. Antony, Ambika Soni, Jairam Ramesh, P. Chidambaram, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, K.C. Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala among others.

Though there has been no official word on what transpired at the meeting, sources told The Hindu that the poll strategist, after sharing his overall plan for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is focussing on battleground States like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram.

More such meetings are in the offing and Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are likely to be in the national capital to discuss election strategy.

In the series of meetings, Congress leaders are also said to have discussed the sharpening communal divide in recent times.

However, opinion within the party seems divided over the issue of inducting Mr. Kishor into the party, with a section of the group of 23 leaders (G-23) — the ginger group pushing for internal reforms — expressing displeasure that they have been excluded from the consultation process.

“This shows that the consultation process that the Congress president earlier held with reformists was farcical,” said a G-23 leader. “The process of involving Prashant Kishor shows arbitrariness and an authoritarian streak”.

Referring to his colleague P.J. Kurien’s recent attack on Rahul Gandhi for continuing to take key decisions despite having stepped down as party president, the G-23 leader hinted at scaling up of hostilities.

Some senior leaders outside G-23 questioned why the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has been bypassed. “By excluding some people and involving others, I wonder if there will be revival or a reversal,” said a CWC member.

However, the leadership found support from former Union Minister M. Veerappa Moily, who has dissociated himself from G-23.

In an interview to PTI, Mr. Moily said, “I was really looking forward to working out a strategy to prepare the Congress party for the upcoming assembly elections in 2023 and the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. In fact, she [Ms. Gandhi] was very keen to involve Prashant Kishor for working out a strategy for the Congress party about a couple of months back. But for some reasons the matter was again delayed”.


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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 9:57:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/disquiet-in-cong-as-kishor-briefs-top-leaders-for-third-day/article65336227.ece