Hyderabad: Leaders in both the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), and the opposition Congress, heaved a sigh of relief after news was confirmed on Tuesday late afternoon that ace political strategist and consultant Prashant Kishor had declined the Congress offer to join the party and help in its revamp and electoral affairs.
Speaking from between hectic work on the plenary preparations, a senior TRS leader, without wishing to be named said, “The last few days have been tense with the news that PK might join the Congress. But once he met KCR at Pragathi Bhavan and spent two days here, and the formal announcement came that I-PAC would work for us, we were relieved. But the BJP had already started a response campaign that we will have an alliance with the Congress. That would have been disastrous for us. We are glad it is all behind us.”
Equally if not more exuberant was Telangana state Pradesh Congress Committee president A. Revanth Reddy, who was busy overseeing arrangements for party leader Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Warangal on May 6, saying, “The Congress has won enough elections in its history without a consultant. Our leadership has enough strategic depth to lead us, and our cadre has enough spirit to fight against the autocratic reign of KCR in Telangana and against Narendra Modi in Delhi.”
Refuting that it was a setback for the Congress, Revanth Reddy said, “Maybe it is a setback for Prashant Kishor. Many people want to join the Congress and we are happy to welcome them but only if they agree to stand for our ideology and accept the leadership.”
“He is an overrated consultant, who keeps speaking of his wins but what about the defeats? How did he fare for the Congress, which had hired him before, in the Uttar Pradesh polls in 2017? How did he fare in Goa for the TMC recently,” asked Revanth Reddy.
Senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy said, “it is a positive outcome for the Congress that a man who is a consultant and without idealogy and has hobnobbed with many parties, including Narendra Modi and K. Chandrashekar Rao, won’t be joining us. It would have been hard for our workers to have trusted him.”
While most reports informally point to the eventual breakdown of the talks with the Congress and Kishor being over larger issues like national presidentship of the party to be entrusted to a person outside the Gandhi family and total control over the election campaign, the TRS leader gave a local twist, saying, “As long as the Congress told PK that he had to work to defeat Modi in national elections, he was willing to join. The moment the party asked him to help the Congress to defeat KCR garu, he gave up, knowing that the TRS is all set to win over 100 seats.”
The BJP, meanwhile, stuck to its narrative. A leader said, “Even if PK does not formally join the Congress, he will be managing the election campaign of the TRS-Congress alliance. The two parties have been exposed in front of Telangana people as secret partners, who instead of a political marriage overseen by Kishor, will now be a live-in relationship instead.”