Prashant Kishor has returned to Punjab four years after helping the Congress to power in the state with a big win in Assembly elections. He signed on as “principal advisor” to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Singh in a tweet said that the two would “work for the betterment of the people of Punjab”. “Happy to share that Prashant Kishor has joined me as my Principal Advisor. Look forward to working together for the betterment of the people of Punjab!” Singh tweeted Monday.
Meanwhile, Prashant Kishor told NDTV that the offer had been on the table for the past year and that Amarinder Singh is “like family”. “I can’t say ‘no’ to him…”
The Chief Minister’s Office tweeted shortly after, saying that Kishor would get cabinet minister-rank (with associated perks) and a “token honorarium of Re 1 only”.
Punjab is scheduled to hold Assembly elections in early 2022.
Big role in 2017 win
The Congress swept to power in 2017 after winning 77 of 117 seats on offer; the win represented a significant increase from 2012 when it won 46 and was beaten by the Akali Dal-BJP alliance.
Kishor and his IPAC, or Indian Political Action Committee, played a big role in that win, creating a number of campaign sketches that struck a chord with voters, including ‘Coffee with Captain (Amarinder Singh)’ to attract younger voters.
Victory in Punjab, however, was preceded by a falling out with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh; he walked out, reportedly over differences in strategy, in late 2016.
The Congress appears to be in a strong position in Punjab ahead of next year’s election; the party made a clean sweep of seven municipal corporations in local body polls held early last month.
Successful track record
A strong showing in local polls aside, Singh will be aware of the challenge that the BJP will pose in the run-up to and during the 2022 election, and he will hope that Kishor can replicate his largely successful track record in state elections.
At present Prashant Kishor and his IPAC are hard at work in Bengal, where he is helping Mamata Banerjee defuse a fierce challenge from the BJP with Assembly elections due to be held over a record eight phases starting March 27.
He is also working with DMK chief MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu – where elections will be held on April 6 – where too he hopes to unseat the BJP (which is in power with AIADMK).
Last year Kishor signed on to help Nitish Kumar retain his position in November polls (and was made the No 2 in the party), but was expelled after openly criticising his stand on the citizenship law.
He emerged as one of Kumar’s fiercest critics as the JDU flopped to concede the numerical advantage to both ally BJP and rival Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).