Prashant Kishor and Mamata Banerjee (credit: Zee News and Wikimedia Commons)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has sought the help of political strategist Prashant Kishor to win 2021 Assembly polls in the state. She reportedly signed up for an ‘election-winning package’ with the political strategist on Thursday amid fears of ceding ground to the BJP in the state.
The move comes after the BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the recently concluded general elections. Mamata Banerjee’s TMC could win only 22 seats as against 34 won in 2014. The BJP has emerged the main challenger to the ruling party, and it is predicted to grow further in the state, much to Ms Banerjee’s chagrin.
Prashant Kishor worked with aspirant Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. He was also credited for the JDU-RJD alliance win in the Bihar assembly elections in 2015. Later, he joined the JDU and has become its Vice President.
Recently, Prashant Kishor strategized for Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress, which swept both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls last month. However, his strategy for the Congress-SP combine in the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh failed to do the magic as the alliance showed up with just 54 seats in the 403-seat assembly, while the BJP captured power with 325 seats.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu had called poll strategist turned politician Prashant Kishor a Dacoit from Bihar (Bihari dhaku) a couple of days ago.
Naidu had alleged that Prashant helped delete lakhs of voters’ names, sympathetic towards the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. “Not only that, he is behind the data theft in Hyderabad in which micro-level details of lakhs of our cadre were stolen and handed over to the YSRCP,” he claimed during a poll campaign meet at Ongole in Prakasam district. YSRCP, headed by YS Jagmohan Reddy is the main opposition party in the state.
The AP chief minister also alleged that thousands of online applications requesting deletion of names originated from Bihar, with fake signatures.
Stepping up his attack on Prashant Kishor in another rally in Guntur, Naidu blamed the poll strategist even for the murder of YS Vivekananda Reddy, the paternal uncle of YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
On Tuesday, TDP MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi Mohan too blamed Prashant Kishor for the removal of voters’ names, misusing technology. According to Vamsi, anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 names of TDP sympathisers including party functionaries were removed in each assembly constituency in a conspiracy hatched by Prashant Kishor.
However, Prashant Kishor has responded with a stinging tweet, saying Naidu is rattled in the face of an imminent defeat. He also pointed at the derogatory name calling by Naidu as his prejudice and malice against Bihar.