Basking in the glory of the electoral triumph of the Trinamool Congress and the DMK in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively in the recent round of assembly elections, poll pundit Prashant Kishor had declared that he wanted to quit the space and do something else in life. However, Kishor's role as an election strategist is only expected to get bigger in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, if his recent political engagements and the assignments that he has been entrusted with are anything to go by.
On the back of its remarkable victory over the BJP in the assembly elections, in which Kishor's I-PAC had been hired by it, the Trinamool Congress is learnt to have extended its association with the organisation up to the next assembly elections in 2026, with the crucial Lok Sabha polls figuring prominently in the timeline.
As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee aggressively takes on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre amid intense speculation if she would emerge as a prime challenger to Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections, the decision to hire I-PAC's services up to 2026 assumes tremendous significance.
Kishor is credited with crafting Banerjee's electoral pitch in the recent assembly elections, wherein she was projected as the underdog who a mighty BJP, backed by all its organisational strength and resources, had sought to corner. Banerjee had taken on the BJP's electoral onslaught with the slogan 'Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chaye' (Bengal wants its daughter).
And now, with Banerjee eyeing the national centrestage, Kishor is expected to play an important role in defining her image as Modi's challenger, as she would want to transcend her regional identity and aim at finding wider acceptance.
Recently, in the backdrop of growing talk of the possibility of a federal front being formed, Kishor had a meeting with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar in Mumbai. The interaction was described as a courtesy call by Kishor on Pawar, but that did not end the speculation on what was discussed in the meeting and whether it would result in any development crucial to the next Lok Sabha polls. There has been a buzz about Pawar wishing to play a larger role in the next general elections by way of putting together an anti-Modi alliance.
Kishor, who was the brain behind Modi's highly successful 'Chai Pe Charcha' campaign for the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, and has since worked with leaders ranging from Nitish Kumar in Bihar to Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh to Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, believes that there can be no war without a general, and insists on the campaign having a face. He relishes the presidential format of election in which a face can be projected and a campaign can be built around that leader. This is crucial since it would be challenging for the opposition bloc to settle on one particular leader as its face to counter Modi in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, the election strategist has also been brought on board by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh as his political adviser ahead of the assembly elections in the state. Kishor had designed Amarinder's campaign in the previous state polls.
So contrary to Kishor's self-declared desire to “quit the space”, his involvement in electioneering in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls is only set to get more intense.