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Congress Wants PK But With Strings Attached, He Declines

After long drawn-out negotiations that lasted for months and desperate attempts to get master strategist Prashant Kishor on board, the Congress high command has fallen into its own trap — Trying to Have The Cake and Eat It Too.

For long Prashant Kishor was pumped up as a veritable panacea to all ills facing the Congress, and that he would chart out the party’s course not only in the December Gujarat polls but also in the 2024 strategy.

After several rounds of discussions, the Congress high command finally announced the formation of an “Empowered Action Group 2024” and invited Prashant to be just a part of it with a defined role.

The message is clear: We will use your complete services but won’t put you in complete charge, which remains and will be so with the Gandhi Family. Simply stated, if Prashant succeeds it is the collective effort of EAG ‘24. Period. It is clear the Congress leadership is averse to grant him a free hand.

Small wonder, Prashant politely turned it down but while doing so, hit the party where it hurts the most.   

He tweeted, “I declined the generous offer of #congress to join the party as part of the EAG & take responsibility for the elections. In my humble opinion, more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems through transformational reforms.” This is what Prashant had maintained all through. 

Just ahead of this, senior party leader Randeep Surjewala announced through a tweet: “Following a presentation & discussions with Sh. Prashant Kishor, Congress President has constituted an Empowered Action Group 2024 & invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility. He declined. We appreciate his efforts & suggestions given to the party.”

The announcement came, ironically, after a series of meetings between Prashant and party chief Sonia Gandhi where he made detailed presentations about his plans. Several other rounds of meetings subsequently followed between Sonia and the party’s top leaders.

As expected, several leaders were against Kishor’s joining not only on ideological grounds but also over his links to political rivals like Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Among them were Sonia’s close team of Digvijaya Singh, Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Surjewala and Jairam Ramesh, who had strong reservations about letting Prashant have a free hand especially since he would be a newcomer.

A section of Congress leaders told some mediapersons that there appeared to be a trust deficit on both sides, claiming that Kishor did not appear to be whole-heartedly on board during Friday’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi and the eight-member special team she constituted to discuss the issue.

Kishor was not comfortable because he had approached the Congress with the rejuvenation plan and which he would drive completely. In a new situation, he would be like any other Congress leader  producing ideas they may be rejected by the top.  

Kishor was offered a slot in the “Empowered Action Group”, formulated to address the “political challenges” ahead of the 2024 national elections.

A day later, he was in Telangana, closeted with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao with whom IPAC, the organisation he had led for years, signed a deal.

Sources said PK wanted big bang disruptive changes that might either cut many to size and the so-called smaller leaders get bigger roles. Still, those in favour of his entry, including Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and Ambika Soni, but they could not make an impact.

Official sources said now that the EAG had been formed, they are expected to evolve a strategy at the three-day conclave in Rajasthan’s Udaipur next month.