Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, widely credited as the brains behind Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) thumping victory in the West Bengal Assembly elections, recently met up with the Gandhis of the Congress party.
The meeting has set tongues wagging: speculation is that he may either be in talks to join the grand old party or that he may be entrusted with the task of resolving differences between the party and other opposition parties.
Kishor had held a series of meetings with National Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar in June. These were followed by a long discussion with Mamata Banerjee ahead of the TMC rejig. Talk is that Didi is likely to visit Delhi this month to meet leaders of non-BJP parties.
In the past, Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawar have been trying to unite opposition parties against the BJP, and hence, the recent developments involving Kishor, Gandhis, the NCP Chief and the TMC Supremo have revived the talks of the ‘Third Front’
The emergence of Mahagathbandhan
Political observers are betting that Kishor, who is close to both Mamata and Pawar, is helping build the ‘Grand Alliance’ (Mahagathbandhan) to counter the BJP in the upcoming Assembly Elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.
Last month, Pawar met the leaders of eight opposition parties including the TMC, the Samajwadi Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Left at his residence in Delhi. Reports say that the meeting was held to discuss the strategies to wrest power from the ruling BJP in the future elections.
Mamata Banerjee is expected to meet Sonia Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, her Delhi counterpart and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal and Sharad Pawar during her Delhi visit. She is arguably the most doughty opposition face after the TMC's victory in the Assembly polls and party sources say that Didi is now looking to play a significant role in national politics.
In the run-up to Lok Sabha elections 2019, Mamata ran from pillar to post to bring non-BJP parties under the same banner to take on BJP and even declared that the ‘third front’ would throw the Saffron party out of power.
During the process, she had the constant support of seasoned political leaders like Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Chandrababu Naidu. Several meetings and rallies were held to counter Modi and the team, all of which turned out to be in vain.
Kishor’s earlier victories and the role he will play now
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor first came in limelight after Prime Minister Narendra Mod-led BJP’s resounding victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He was roped in by the BJP to shape BJP’s strategy for the Lok Sabha polls after he helped Modi become Chief Minister of Gujarat for the third time in 2012.
His campaigns for Nitish Kumar in 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, Amarinder Singh in 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019 and Arvind Kejriwal in 2020 also generated positive results.
He also devised DMK’s election strategy for the recently held Assembly elections and helped the party dislodge incumbent AIADMK.
Kishor then came to the rescue of TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee for her image makeover and to prepare the battlefield for 2021 Assembly elections. The BJP failed to defeat the TMC despite an aggressive election campaign involving the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Now, Kishor is working to bring all major Opposition parties on the same page and help them reach a broader understanding on the leadership issue given that every regional party has its own terms and conditions.
With Kishor on board, the 'Third Front' could be a definite possibility in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, strengtheninghis position in national politics, say political observers.
First Published: IST