Apart from the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the last three years in the country has seen the rise of two election strategists — Amit Shah, Prashant Kishor — who are changing the political landscape of India like never before. While both took off from the same camp in 2014, they are now competitors and Shah has clearly taken the lead.
After helping Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar score a massive victory in the state in 2015, Kishor moved to the Congress camp to help the beleaguered party win in Assembly elections 2017, but not with much success. In UP and Uttarakhand, Congress received a historic drubbing at the hands of BJP. The grand old party won in Punjab but not before Captain Amarinder Singh stopped taking his services for the campaign planning. On Sunday, Kishor blamed the Gandhi’s (Rahul and Priyanka) for the UP drubbing. But, can he skip the responsibility by putting the blame on Gandhis? At this crucial juncture of his career as a poll strategist, Kishor should answer these questions:
1. If he knew that Gandhis were not cooperating, or letting him implement his ideas, then why did he stick around the Congress?
2. Was it deliberate on his part to see through the further decline of Congress? As, this may boost national ambition of regional leaders and help Kishor keep his shop running.
3. Can strategy alone win elections?
Kishore won General and Bihar elections as he had two charismatic leaders — Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar — respectively to bank upon. In UP, he made failed attempts to get a leader out of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. But the Congress vice-president comes with such baggage that it is almost impossible to make his style of leadership acceptable to people.
Interestingly, it was Kishor who had reportedly argued for, and help effect, an SP-Congress alliance. Now it is emerging that both SP and Congress could have done better if they fought separately in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress was reduced to a mere seven seats, while the SP couldn’t even cross the 50 seats mark.
Failure of Akhilesh along with Rahul Gandhi also show that the former’s popularity was not much substance, but hype and this is reason why Kishor failed. In contrast, Shah had the charisma of PM Modi to bank upon. It is time Kishor should realise, leaders win elections and not just strategists.