In a week of frenzied activity, a strange truth prevailed amidst a couple of outcomes: while Elon Musk could take complete charge of Twitter, Inc., for a larger cause of free speech, Prashant Kishor tried, but failed, to take similar control of running the Congress affairs for a larger cause of uniting the Opposition ranks to challenge the BJP juggernaut in 2024 – you must put your money where your presentation is.
The biggest contribution of PK, as Mr Kishor is known as, in the last few weeks to Indian politics has been to nip the BJP narrative after the win in the Assembly elections to four states, especially Uttar Pradesh, that post this win, the 2024 elections would be a foregone conclusion.
PK quickly and single-handedly rose to speak for the entire Opposition of the country – when all other parties were focussed on either nursing their wounds, or walloping in self-victimhood – to strongly argue that the 2024 elections could be won, provided, those opposed to the BJP could understand and accept certain ground realities, and come around to a common purpose and plan.
PK was emphatic to understand, and argue, that as much as Uttar Pradesh with its 80 seats, it was the cluster of states where predominantly the two national parties face off – Gujarat (26), Rajasthan (25), Madhya Pradesh (29), Chhattisgarh (11), Haryana (10), Karnataka (28), Uttarakhand (5), Himachal Pradesh (4), Assam (14), and all the smaller Northeastern states (11) and various Union Territories – totalling 170 seats, or twice the representation of UP, where the Congress was conceding almost all seats to the Modi-led BJP, leaving little chance of a battle for the rest of the Opposition parties.
Even if the Opposition were to perform spectacularly in West Bengal (42), exploit the weakness of the BJP in states like Tamil Nadu (39), Punjab (13) and Kerala (20), put up a unified Opposition in big states of UP (80), Maharashtra (48) and Bihar (40) – all well within the schema for Mr Kishor – the BJP almost invariably reaches the threshold of a simple majority.
It would still leave a lot to do for PK to take the numbers away from the BJP in Jharkhand (14), Delhi (7), Telangana (17), Kashmir (5); besides having to bring in two highly reluctant non-BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh (25) and Odisha (21) to add their might to the anti-BJP side.
It was this realisation that the BJP must be first stopped in these seats where the Congress twice gave a near-complete walkover that pushed Mr Kishor to renew his parleys with the Grand Old Party, seeking a chance to strengthen the party in the most vulnerable 200-odd seats.
It did not work out, whatever be the reasons, either for the Congress, or PK, and thus, for the non-BJP Opposition. Maybe the offer of Mr Kishor was not as enticing as Mr Musk, maybe the Congress did not see the need to give up so much control to one man, unlike Twitter, given the potential benefits.
Either way, whatever be the reason for the breakdown of the Congress-PK talks, it is back to Advantage Modi, Circa 2024.