Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was "very keen" to involve Prashant Kishor in working out a strategy for the party even about a couple of months ago but the matter was "again delayed", senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily said on Tuesday and advocated that the poll strategist be inducted into the party now. The former Union minister said it is "quite heartening" to see that Gandhi has taken up the initiative to involve Kishor to come out with a strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and the party's revival plan and strategy for the assembly elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Telangana in 2022-2023.
"I was really looking forward for working out a strategy to prepare the Congress party for the upcoming assembly elections in 2023 and the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. In fact, she (Sonia Gandhi) was very keen to involve Prashant Kishor for working out a strategy for the Congress party about a couple of months back. But for some reasons the matter was again delayed," Moily told PTI in an interview.
“I had already addressed a letter to the Congress president on April 5, 2022, with appropriate strategy to take the agenda of INC forward, by taking into confidence other secular forces/parties and also a special note for Karnataka. The Congress president has acknowledged the said note,” he said.
Moily said he had met Kishor on March 25 and discussed with him his involvement in the Congress for working out a strategy for assembly elections of 2023 and also the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. Noting that the news about involvement of Kishor resurfaced again last Saturday, he said it came as a “long-awaited validation” for him personally and also to the rank and file of the party.
“I am quite excited that the Saturday meeting has been followed up seriously,” the former Union minister said.
Moily said he has earlier recommended to Gandhi that Kishor be inducted into the party. He had also voiced strong support last September for Kishor’s induction into the Congress and said those opposing his entry into the party were “anti-reform”.
Kishor on Saturday had given a detailed presentation to the Congress’ top brass at a meeting chaired by Gandhi on the way forward for 2024 general elections, while expressing readiness to join the party.
Kishor, who has held several rounds of meetings with the top Congress leadership, is also learnt to have made suggestions on the upcoming assembly elections.
Talking about his work in bringing about reforms within the party, Moily said, “I had the task of presenting the report of ‘The Group to Look into Future Challenges’ in 2008. And I had given the first report to the Congress President. I am proud to say that Sonia Gandhi was quite keen on restructuring the Congress party from bottom to the top. The presentation was followed up by two or three meetings of leaders for implementation. It was, however, delayed, not because of Sonia Gandhi but due to other factors.” Delay in refurbishing the party has cost the Congress and the nation, he argued.
“The Congress president again reminded me to send a copy of the said report with updates about four months back and it was duly sent to her by me,” he said.
Asserting that the Congress has a great heritage of leading the freedom movement and providing good governance for almost seven decades, Moily said the country is now threatened by “autocratic, communal and also fissiparous forces”.
Moily asserted that it is high time for the Congress should lead a national movement again for sustaining the democratic and secular ethos and also vibrant development. “Almost all regional parties in the country are now geared up to fight against the BJP and its non-federal, communal platform. All of them feel strongly that INC should again emerge as a strong force to bind the nationalistic forces just as in the case of UPA I and II, and it can be UPA III (now),” he said.
Federal forces should be empowered in at least 400 Lok Sabha seats in 2024, which is not impossible, he said. “It can be done in two segments — fighting for elections with pre-poll alliance partners and with a post-poll alliance wherever it is feasible,” he said.
Moily argued that the Congress and other regional parties must form a strong force against NDA led by the BJP. “It is not too late to work out appropriate strategy for the above,” the former Karnataka chief minister said.
The strategy should start with the assembly elections and without losing any time, he said. Moily, who was among the 23 leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi for large-scale organisational reforms, had distanced himself from the group (G-23) and said his intention was never to target the top leadership of the party.
His remarks come amid the Congress grappling with repeated election defeats in the last two general elections and many state assembly elections.
The party is not only facing a series of desertions ever since its electoral graph has taken a downturn, but the brewing internal conflict between the old guard and the new generation for leadership roles has also taken its toll. A section of the party that has been critical of the decision-making process is sceptical about the move to involve Kishor, with some leaders even saying that the leadership is now ”outsourcing” its work.