Amid infighting, the Congress is now facing a new menace in Punjab as impersonators of poll strategist Prashant Kishor are duping partymen by promising favourable surveys and poll tickets for the Assembly election scheduled next year.
Police officers in Ludhiana on Tuesday registered a case against unidentified persons for dialling party leaders and asking them to publicly criticise the Chief Minister.
So far, the gang has duped Congressmen of Rs 5 crore at least, police sources said.
As per a report by The Indian Express, another gang of Kishor impersonators was busted in May and it fleeced at least 30-40 Congress leaders from Ludhiana, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Sangrur.
“The gang-members were caught while trying to dupe MLA Kuldeep Singh Vaid. He got suspicious when the impersonator asked for a gift to submit a survey report in his favour. The police laid a trap and two men were arrested from Jalandhar on May 11 and 13, respectively,”, police sources told Indian Express.
The arrested accused have been identified as Rakesh Kumar Bhasin and Rajat Kumar Raja, and the key impersonator- Gaurav Sharma- all of them hail from Amritsar.
“Sharma is a gambler who bets lakhs every day. He has perfected Kishor’s style of speaking after watching him on TV. He not only duped leaders from Punjab but also Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana and West Bengal. There are cases registered against the gang in other states but police were not able to pin them down,” a senior police officer said.
The targets of the gang included several leaders, MLAs, a former Mayor, and candidates of the previous state elections. In January 2016, Kishor was drafted by Amarinder Singh to advise the party on strategy for the 2017 elections and in March this year, the Chief Minister appointed him as his principal advisor.
Kishor had played a key role in helping the TMC retain power in West Bengal before announcing that he wanted to take a break from poll management.