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Is miracle worker Prashant Kishore running away from the Congress campaign?

Prashant Kishore is a political genius. Prashant Kishore can turn water into wine (or, in Bihar…turn wine into water). Prashant Kishore is the mastermind of Narendra Modi’s electoral victory in 2014. Prashant Kishore is the mastermind of Nitish Kumar’s electoral victory in 2015. Prashant Kishore can win any election anywhere. Which must be precisely why the greatest electoral mastermind in history is running away from the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

You know what they say about who flees first from a sinking ship:

Click on that article and you will be treated to a litany of complaints about how PK can’t get this or that of his choosing, how other Congressmen are not cooperating, about uncleared payments and what not…

For weeks now, we have been treated to source based reporting on how Prashant Kishore is irritated with the Congress over this or that. Come on Prashant, you are the finest electoral mind this nation has produced and the best face saver for you is rumors of being “unhappy”? Come on, that routine has been done before. India’s best election strategist reduced to copying tired old UPA strategies? Are these Acchhe Din or what?

If Prashant Kishore knows that he can’t make the Congress win in Uttar Pradesh, he should have the courage to stand with the defeated side on results day and accept the impact his failures will have on his career. He accepted the charge, he tried and failed. PK should deal with it. No rational person will be convinced by the source based reports that are trying to shift the blame now. And I am pretty sure we can all guess who is trying to shift the blame and why.

But then again, Prashant Kishore  has had greatness thrust upon him. The ruling establishment in 2014, desperate to stop Narendra Modi, decided to wager it all on a newcomer with a remarkable record of shirking responsibility. That was Arvind Kejriwal. Again, after Modi’s massive victory, the establishment was desperate to give the credit to anyone but Modi and Shah. And Prashant Kishore was the right man at the right place at the right time : they offered him the crown of India’s greatest election strategist and he grabbed it with both hands. No questions were asked when Nitish Kumar, the man around whom PK had drawn up his Bihar campaign, actually finished 10 seats behind Lalu Yadav. For the media, PK had to be an electoral wizard, because otherwise they will have no choice but to give the credit to Amit Shah for 73/80 in Uttar Pradesh.

By the way, PK has no excuse that Congress is too weak in Uttar Pradesh. Here are the vote shares from Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls of 2009:

Indian National Congress: 18.25%

Bharatiya Janata Party: 17.50%

Ok, so the BJP was a miserable fourth from Uttar Pradesh in 2009. Today Congress stands at a miserable fourth in Uttar Pradesh. We hear that great strategist Prashant Kishore singlehandedly managed to lift that poor 17.50% to a massive 43% for the BJP, giving it a landslide of 73/80. So, why doesn’t PK do the same for the Congress party now? Have the siddhis and mantras of the great electoral master failed him?

I don’t think I say this enough (no one says this enough) but I respect politicians. Politics is a rough game and you have to be hard as nails to keep playing it day after day after day. Even a dynast like Rahul Gandhi who did not have to fight his way through the lower ranks, is persevering with his yatra in Uttar Pradesh. And when he loses badly in February next year, as he inevitably will, there will be nowhere for the Congress party to hide. There is some nobility even in that. The real losers are those who had been hoping to feast on the victory had it been forthcoming, but are now trying to escape quietly through a “patli gali” in a haze of rumors.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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