Disconcerted over PK's Cong moves, TRS wears mask of nonchalance
Deccan Chronicle.| Sriram Karri
If PK does turn the Gandhi family sennachie and creates a viscid narrative, it could work out to the great advantage of the TS Congress
Political strategist Prashant Kishor. (PTI)
Hyderabad: The masks are not off, not from the public posturing of the TRS leaders, over the plethora of news items dominating the country’s media over political strategist Prashant Kishor’s dalliances with the grand old party.
Ever since the news broke that PK, as Kishor is popularly referred to in TRS circles, reopened his lines of communications with the Gandhi family over a role he could play and the changes needed in the Congress to be able to challenge the Narendra Modi-led juggernaut of a BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the pink party leaders are in an understandable disconcertment.
Despite the ineluctable strategic significance of Kishor for the TRS’ chances in the next Assembly elections, several party leaders, with wilful nonchalance, dismissed both the ongoing developments with the Congress, and the possible realignment being a setback.
"It is true that we have hired and started using the political consulting services of Prashant Kishor for the next Assembly elections through his firm, Indian Political Action Committee (I-Pac). How would his joining the Congress impact this engagement would depend on his actually joining that party. Right now, he has not said anything, we only have media speculation," said a senior leader, busy with the arrangement for the party plenary.
Several other leaders chose, trying to hide the obvious discomfort at the development, to indite and parrot a line that PK was not too primal to the party’s efforts to win another term.
"He is not a leader, just a consultant. There are several of them. Yes, we did hire him but if he joins a rival party, obviously, we will not be able to take his services anymore. We will get someone else," said a youth leader, considered to be part of the junior think tank brigade of the party.
When quizzed about the impact on morale, he dismissively added, "the TRS has won two elections under the leadership of the best political strategist in the country – KCR sir. Did we need PK in 2014 or 2018? Yes, he would have added some value but he is not indispensable."
But what is willfully and consistently left unsaid is that the TRS, after several electoral setbacks, beginning with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, where it lost eight out of the 17 seats it contested, to the debilitating byelection defeats in Dubbak and Huzurabad, and the GHMC elections in between, was counting on Kishor’s I-Pac to restore the mojo.
Within the TRS rank and file, the eventual announcement by TRS supremo and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, after several weeks of leaks and guesses about Kishor joining the TRS camp as an adviser was received with great gusto, and led to days of political raillery of the opposition.
Now, the turn of events is causing anguish, which can neither be revealed nor buried. One senior TRS leader said, "Why should you think there is a conflict? After all, if PK is now working on bringing all parties against the Modi-led BJP at the Centre, does it not mean he is implementing the strategy of KCR sir."
In fact, if PK does turn the Gandhi family sennachie and creates a viscid narrative, it could work out to the great advantage of the Telangana Congress. But the TPCC and leaders at all levels chose to be extremely tight-lipped over the prize swap of a catch that came unexpectedly and could turn the tables.
"Nothing to say... for now," said a senior Congress leader. But the underlying glee was palpable and barely disguised.
Needless to say, more than Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the BJP, the rival camps of the TRS and Congress are eagerly awaiting the final announcement of Mr Kishor joining the Congress.
Sriram Karri is the Resident Editor of Deccan Chronicle, based in Hyderabad. He is also the author of the MAN Asian Literary Prize long-listed novel 'Autobiography of a Mad Nation' and 'The Spiritual Supermarket'.