Janata Dal (United) Vice President and former election strategist Prashant Kishor on Monday said Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be a strong competitor in the future but is not likely to “turn things around” for her party before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported.
Vadra, who was appointed Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East last month, kicked off her first roadshow in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow on Monday.
“Nobody has a magic wand,” Kishor said. “I do not think she will be able to turn things around for the Congress in the two-three months that are left for the Lok Sabha polls. But she is a big name and a popular face. In the long run, yes she would emerge as a challenge [to the NDA],” Kishor said in Patna.
When asked if she would pose a challenge to Congress chief and her brother Rahul Gandhi, he said: “Rahul Gandhi is the party president while Priyanka Vadra is among the many national general secretaries, but her entry will have an impact in the long run.”
He added that the mahagathbandhan, or the alliance of Opposition parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party, is not likely to succeed. In Bihar, the grand alliance comprises of the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, the Hindustani Awam Morcha and the Vikasheel Insaan Party. Any coalition with more than five parties is not likely to succeed, he claimed. “But, if the ‘mahagathbandhan’ manages to do well, it would serve as a learning experience for all of us,” Kishor added.
‘Demonetisation, GST unlikely to play a role’
Kishor added that factors such as note ban and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax regime will not have any impact on the elections as they took place years ago. Events that have occurred six months ahead of the elections play a greater role, he said.
“As far as I can see, the NDA looks poised to return to power [at the Centre]. How many seats it is going to win, I cannot predict,” he said. The Janata Dal (United) is a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
“Narendra Modi is the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate and he will return as the Prime Minister again,” Kishor added. He also dismissed speculation that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was a prime ministerial aspirant. “Kumar is a big leader,” Kishor added. “Anybody who has ruled a major state like Bihar for close to 15 years is bound to have a stature. But it would be unfair to him if we start considering him a claimant for the prime minister’s post.”
Kishor also rejected rumours that he had met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recently to discuss election strategy. “I met the Shiv Sena chief upon his invitation. The party is an NDA constituent and so there is nothing out of place in both of us having discussions,” he added. “The speculations of my helping them with poll strategy do not have any substance. I am now a member of a party and cannot offer such professional assistance.”
Kishor has in the past managed election campaigns for both the BJP and the Congress. Kishor worked closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 General Elections. He handled the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress’ successful election campaign in Bihar in 2015, and worked for the ruling Samajwadi Party and its ally Congress ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, which they lost.