Prashant Kishor: Can He Revive Congress?
In my view, the revival of Congress will be the real test of the political strategist – Prashant Kishor. It is important to understand that Prashant is not a magician; he is only a successful political strategist. It is important to note that in past he has only work on a good product – Narendra Modi, and Nitish Kumar. The case of Congress is very different from his past experiences.
It is important to understand that the brand Narendra Modi and the so-called Wave Modi was not created in 6 months. It was built over a few years and there were many parallel branding marketing and PR team working on it. I must appreciate that he managed the movement created by the branding and PR team and nurtured the anti-congress sentiments, Modi Wave and Brand Modi in possibly the best way. The other classic success came in the form of Nitish Kumar.
I must give credit to Prashant Kishor for the success of the campaign for Nitish Kumar. He as a political analyst and evangelist managed to unite three rival groups – Congress, JDU, and RJD with combined vote share of 40+ percent. I also acknowledge his contribution in constructing, otherwise impossible ‘Mahagathbandhan’. I believe that it was the only way out to rewrite the new political story in Bihar and may be the only way forward for the rest of India. It is important to give him credit for his political game planning and not just campaign management.
The third biggest assignment of Prashant Kishor came in the form of reviving the Congress party’s fortunes in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and highly competitive Punjab. This new assignment come with riders, that he cannot touch the Gandhi family pocket – Rae Bareli and Amethi, and also the neighbouring Sultanpur district. In the classic success stories he has written in the past, Modi and Nitish had given him full control on the campaign design. In both the cases he was also part of the campaign war room. It will be very difficult for anyone including the magician Prashant Kishor, to revive the otherwise dead political party – Congress.
One of the commendable traits of Prashant’s campaign design is outwitting the opponents with fresh communication and marketing strategies. It is also seen that he never repeats his marketing tactics and communication. Prashant, till date has been dealing with charismatic personalities – Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi but in the current case the major challenge is also about the personality itself.
In the past he has worked with best communication experts and charismatic personalities who delivered his campaign statement on ground with all honesty. In the case of Congress, he also needs to create a strong and honest image of the leadership (I would not like to name the leader). In all honesty, image building should be the first step towards reviving Congress.
The other unique feature of Kishor’s campaign strategies includes – door-to-door canvassing, building an aura around leadership, catchy slogans, data-backed selection of candidates, volunteers, research and so on. The big question remains unanswered, is congress leadership ready to work on the ground? If not, the Congress will be highly dependent on the grassroots workers and local leaders. In my views, grassroots workers and local leaders will not like to have a new ‘glass wall’ between them and leadership.
I strongly believe that Prashant can’t recreate same magic and Congress wave as he may not get charismatic personality as face of the campaign. Moreover, he will have to face challenges of a legacy system, and may not get support of ground workers and local party veterans.