At least 22 employees of Indian Political Action Committee, the political strategy firm headed by Prashant Kishor, were detained at a hotel in Agartala in Tripura on Monday, East Mojo reported, citing the police.

The employees of the firm, more commonly known as I-PAC, have been conducting a survey in the state on behalf of the Trinamool Congress for the last few days. The party has reportedly signed up I-PAC for the 2023 Assembly elections in Tripura.

Officer in-charge at the East Agartala police station, Saroj Bhattacharya, confirmed the detainment.

However, there were differing reports on the reason for the police action. According to NDTV, the police allegedly stopped the I-PAC employees from leaving the hotel suggesting that they had violated Covid-19 norms. Meanwhile, News18 reported that the police were verifying the identity of those detained.

Ashish Lal Singh, the chief of Trinamool Congress’ Tripura unit, blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the incident, suggesting that it was scared. “The I-PAC team is undergoing verification since [Sunday] night and they are almost in house arrest,” he said.

Kishor’s I-PAC had chalked out the poll strategy for the Trinamool Congress during the West Bengal elections. The campaign proved to be a success for Kishor, as his pre-poll prediction that the BJP will not be able to “cross double digits”, in terms of number of seats, proved to be true. The Trinamool Congress retained power in the state winning 213 seats, while the BJP managed only 77.

Over the last couple of months, Kishor has also held meetings with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, as well as, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. The meetings have fueled speculations of the political strategist working towards stitching a larger Opposition alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Last week, Kishor’s name also came up on the list of potential targets of the Pegasus spyware.