AP politics: After hanging up boots, Prashant Kishor’s reboot plan buoys TDP, disgusts YSR Congress

The TDP’s desperation is seen as a strategic opportunity by Kishor for more than one reason. The party could be used as a guinea pig to examine his strength.

AP politics: After hanging up boots, Prashant Kishor’s reboot plan buoys TDP, disgusts YSR Congress

HYDERABAD: Prashant Kishor, a middle-drop in the practice of political consulting — that he had pioneered in India — and who had announced that he had hung up his boots and would never get back to the practice, is rebooting himself to get back and test the waters on the ground once again by lending his shoulder to the Telugu Desam Party.

The TDP’s desperation is seen as a strategic opportunity by Kishor for more than one reason. The party could be used as a guinea pig to examine his strength. The party is on its comeback trail after badly losing to YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. It has successfully roped in actor Pawan Kalyan who has been dabbling with politics for over a decade and a half with no success. The fan base and caste base he enjoys are being seen as the necessary critical mass for translating into votes by the TDP which held him close tightly.

Kishor reportedly understood that what exactly has done in KCR’s BRS in Telangana could potentially play out even against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy.

While there may have been myriad reasons for KCR to lose the battle to a much junior player Revanth Reddy, who was stigmatised by too many charges, the first and foremost reason, for sure, is his inaccessibility and not mingling with people who he had nursed for 14 years when he had built the humongous Telangana movement.

Ditto with Jagan who had exposed too much of himself to the common man through his record breaking and epoch-making Padayatra.

Jagan built iron curtains around himself to stay away like an introvert, which he is not, and making the process of securing an appointment with him a Herculean task to most of his party legislators too.

This impression of inaccessibility loomed large over Andhra Pradesh all across.

For some strange reasons, best known to him, he eschewed the image of being chivalrous and confined himself to the cocoon of his security cordon.

This root cause has indeed come as a proverbial shot in the arm to his opponents who are indeed formidable and have never left an opportunity to stay connected with the public with their vitriolic rhetoric against him by indulging in constant vituperative.

Smelling rat

Prashant Kishor apparently smelt the rat in AP what with his understanding of voter behaviour. I-PAC, the political consulting company Kishor had founded and worked for in many States and with the BJP at the national level, is still on board with the YSR Congress. I-PAC had worked for the YSR Congress since 2015 and helped Jagan ascend to the chief minister’s gaddi. The firm is firmly with Jagan and it is Kishor who officially had severed connections with it and stayed away.

He, who tried to don the robes of a politician, perhaps realised his egregious blunder and decided to eschew that avatar to become a good coach rather than trying to be a player himself.

Interestingly, I-PAC announced that it’s committed to working with YSR Congress through a tweet.

Shantanu Sharma, a former I-PAC executive, who is currently associated with Showtime Consulting, a company associated with the TDP, accompanied Kishor and Nara Lokesh, the TDP General Secretary, in a chartered aircraft, belonging to former TDP MP and current BJP MP C M Ramesh who is close to Chandrababu Naidu.

Showtime is founded by Robin Sharma, a former top executive in Kishor’s I-PAC.

Kishor stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest by going along with Lokesh to Vijayawada from Hyderabad.

Though, for the record, he said his meeting with Naidu was a courtesy call, it’s not beyond anybody’s imagination that the express purpose of the meeting between the duo was only with regard to political consulting. Naidu wanted Kishor to help him recapture the lost power and glory.

If it were just a private meeting and a courtesy call, he would have gone on the sly to meet Naidu either in a car from Hyderabad or met Naidu somewhere else far from the public glare.

But, the man, who lays emphasis on optics, ensured that he went in a chartered flight of CM Ramesh and let himself videographed while emerging out of the airport in Vijayawada.

If anyone fails to read the writing on the wall, there would be none more ignorant.

The BRS conundrum

Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC, which was engaged by KCR, slowly went adrift after the Telangana Rashtra Samithi changed its name to the BRS. Reasons for the exit of I-PAC were, however, not explained by either side.

Kishor is known for betting on winning horses. Thus, one pertinent question that crosses everyone’s mind is that whether he is foreseeing YS Jagan’s rout and Naidu’s resurgence.

An industry senior felt that Kishor wants to test his ability of political advisory after a long hiatus. At least three of his protégés — Robin of Showtime, Sunil Kanugolu of MindShare/Invlusive Minds, and Rishi Raj Singh of I-PAC — are now the front runners in the business.

Backseat driving

Shantanu Sharma’s presence in the aircraft infers that Kishor could use Robin’s Showtime as the frontend and he could do the backseat driving.

This means he’s taking on his own I-PAC head-on in the realm of political consulting business.

By working against her own associates like YS Jagan, Ashok Charan, and the DMK, then Congress president Sonia Gandhi lost her (the Congress) ground in those states one after the other.

The reference of Sonia Gandhi is brought in just as an analogy to relate to Kishor’s bid to fight the company he had founded and nursed for two decades.

Rudely put, it’s like a snake gobbling up its own eggs.

Not a casual meet

While Kishor’s deliberate show of optics buoyed the TDP camp, it surely came as a shocker to the YSR Congress. Initial reactions from the YSR Congress were in fact toe-curving.

However, as they began kvetching about Kishor turning into an ingrate, decibel levels of criticism on Kishor began reverberating all around.

Its leaders Ambati Rambabu, Perni Nani and others began to pooh-poon Kishor as a spent force and an exhausted weapon.

They began to dig out and recall how Naidu and the TDP called Kishor names and how they attributed motives to him and asked how the same Kishor, for whom Naidu had a cardinal hatred, wooed him.

If Kishor-Naidu combo becomes a reality, which is for now left as a tacenda by both sides, it will be surely haunt the YSR Congress for long.

All said and done, Kishor’s prospective and potential association in the role of a Director for the Telugu Desam movie on Andhra Pradesh election canvas created a storm in the state’s political box office.

And, the game starts now!!!

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