If You Can’t Beat Them… Chandrababu May Hire Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC Which Helped Jagan Win
Hyderabad: In an interesting twist to Andhra politics, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has offered a mega contract to poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC, less than a month after the political research firm contributed to his humiliating exit from power.
According to sources close to the former chief minister, Naidu has offered Indian-Political Action Committee a multi-year contract.
I-PAC’s last client was YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy who rode to power in a landslide victory in the recently held assembly elections, dislodging the Chandrababu Naidu government.
Jagan had hired Kishor in 2017 when his political currency was at its lowest ever amid charges of amassing disproportionate assets. The I-PAC team’s first step in turning the tables was the 3,600-km padyatra Jagan undertook across the state. It is widely believed that the walkathon helped turn the tide in Jagan’s favour, bringing him closer to the voters.
While it remains unclear whether an official agreement is in place, sources told News18 that Naidu has put forward a proposal to I-PAC. Naidu had reached out to Kishor’s team in 2016 as well, but the deal couldn’t be struck then, people familiar with the matter said.
Naidu’s purported overtures are in stark contrast to his spat with Kishor during the assembly elections when the then CM called the latter a “Bihari dacoit”. Kishor, the vice-president of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), hit back saying Naidu was rattled by the impending defeat.
Both Prashant Kishor and Nitish Kumar have maintained that I-PAC’s collaborations are independent of the former’s association with the JD(U).
Kishor had triggered intense speculation on his next venture when he reportedly met West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee on June 8.
Kishor's first major political campaign was for the 2012 Gujarat assembly polls in which Narendra Modi got a successive third term in office. But it was his work in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls which earned him wider recognition.
He created election-campaign group Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) in 2013 and it worked for the BJP in the run-up to the 2014 elections, creating innovative ideas and campaign themes.
Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) was formed in 2015 by Kishor. It worked with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who was in an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. The BJP was defeated in those elections.
After Bihar elections, Kumar named Kishor as advisor for planning and programme implementation.
I-PAC worked for the Congress in 2017 Punjab assembly elections. The party, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, came back to power in the state after two successive poll defeats.
Kishor also worked for the Congress in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, but the party could not do well in the state.