Prashant Kishor : Disruptive, Harmful

I hereby declare that Prashant Kishor (let us call him shortly as PK), the so-called poll strategist, is dangerous to the idea of a democratic India. He is disrupting the Indian politics in a manner which threatens the very social development model he preaches. I am writing this piece after studying his moves.

Prashant Kishor is hailed as master craftsman bringing victories for any political party in India. He was the man behind the team which worked wonders for Mr Narendra Modi. He is the same man who worked for Mr Nitish Kumar in Bihar. He is the same person who is with Mr Rahul Gandhi now, to strategise UP Assembly elections. It is stated in media that he has suggested to woo Brahmins to garner more votes for Congress. This particular news item made me to come open against him and expose the gaps in his great idea of development through professional participation. Is this brand politics without political leanings  just a neutral attitude or does it contain a hidden agenda ?

I may deviate from arguments here and there, but read my article in full, before questioning me.

It is true that politicians change colours, and shift from one party to another, without bothering much about the ideologies. This is true only with those who are selfish enough, but the same cannot be said about many other leaders and most importantly, ideologically hardened base level workers. The strategists for political parties too stick to their primary belief and seldom change party. ‘Genuine’ thinkers, ‘Real’ intellectuals do not change their beliefs overnight. To quote an instance, it was a tough decision by Prakash Belawadi to join BJP. But Prashant Kishor is not from this breed. He can change loyalties just because some winner did not accept his post-election recommendations. He can come out of an active forum like Citizen for Accountable Governance (CAG), which was basically serving Mr Narendra Modi, and launch another forum like Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) and begin serving Mr Nitish Kumar.

It is said that most of the CAG team members have regrouped to form I-PAC. But my preliminary search yielded results which showed that many of his much publicised team members have left CAG and opted for much green pastures in Corporate Sector. You will believe this if you really search each of the members listed in CAG website.  All the people hired by PK have marketing and other capitalistic ideas and strategies and less of social thoughts. Have you ever heard of any other social idea breakthrough from any of the PK’s team member? I have not.

One report in Business Standard said this: “Many of these groups are driven by Indians who have either gone abroad for work or are working with multinational firms or multilateral institutions. They are all hugely successful professionals, but have stayed away from the hurly-burly of politics for much of their life. Their plunge into political campaigns for a party of their choice thus shows a rare passion, drive and commitment.” All this is hyped up. People joined CAG for a lucrative job. They left CAG for another well paid job. Few of them had failed in their earlier ventures very badly or were waiting for a change, as I found out from my preliminary online search.

I sifted through the Company papers of CAG, which honestly stated that it did campaign for BJP during 2014 Loksabha elections. Still, it had a negative balance of 2.70 Crores at the end of the FY 2014-15. Okay. I searched for I-PAC’s financial details. They are yet to be published. To be more precise, the website of I-PAC is yet to be constructed! (See the screenshot taken on 10 April 2016)

IPAC-screenshot

If you go through the FB posters by I-PAC, you can see a number of posters which neutrally state some of the Good Governance Schemes by various State Governments like West Bengal, Odisha etc., While WB is facing elections, Odisha elections are due only in 2019. Let us wait and watch.

If you study further, you will come across a recruitment poster by I-PAC, published in December 2015. Surprisingly, it boasts that it is the same team which did campaigns for Mr Narendra Modi, Mr Nitish Kumar, and wait, there is another name : Dr John Pombe Magufuli, the President of Tanzania. Yes, I-PAC helped him to a resounding victory! I was informed by Wikipedia that he is the member of the ruling party of Tanzania since 1977 and for most of the period, there was a single party in Tanzania. Why should India’s organisation work in Tanzania elections? I do not know, really.

I will analyse the  elections victories of Mr Narendra Modi and Mr. Nitish Kumar as follows:

  • Mr Narendra Modi’s victory: He was a charismatic leader who could connect to the masses with his fluent Hindi. UPA-II was in disarray and was falling from grace as a result of massive corruption. There was an anti-incumbent factor to count on.  The Congress Party was already weakened in several States. So, Prashant Kishor’s role is limited only in some branding exercises and nothing more.
  • Mr. Nitish Kumar’s Victory: Mr Nitish Kumar was ruling the State with a good number of legislators from his own party. By siding with Laloo Prasad, he lost his own numbers, but retained his power due to the combined strength. Though PK worked for Nitish,  Laloo got more seats! The combined caste factor also played a major role. This is evident from the fact that BJP could get significant votes, but failed to convert them into seats. So, I will again limit PK’s role to just few advertisements, slogans, and related marketing activities.

Many a times, we tend to forget the role of grass root workers, as they cannot project themselves as the root cause of victories. But PK can, as he is the mask; he is always watched by media, covered extensively. I can confidently say that the role of base workers was instrumental in these victories (for both Modi and Nitish). Otherwise, do you believe that PK is the sole breadwinner for all these parties? Do you think that the cadre simply slept over these days and PK did the magic? Being inside the BJP campaign, I am of the firm view that workers are the real strength of this party and not PK or his team.

It is really a shame that all the strategies implemented by political parties, cutting across ideologies, are now being looked as failures. Right (BJP), left (JDU) and Centre (CONGRESS)  parties have sought the help of PK. This is the most unfortunate development in Indian Electioneering. If PK is the master strategist, and a political visionary, why can’t he float his own party and do the social change? He cannot do this for the simple reason that nobody will pay him if he launches a political party! His agenda is not politics, but to become a messiah of electioneering.

IPAC brochure 2015 december

Consider this: He was not a Director in CAG. His name was not mentioned in the CAG team list. PK will not talk to media. He will not take any posts in Governance. If he is really a social change maker, then why he was not on the Board of CAG? This is an intelligent act to escape from the legal, political and social responsibilities. This is called authority without accountability. The political leaders are blindly allowing this un-democratic cult to grow. This must stop.

In Bihar, his brainchild, Bihar Vikas Mission (BVM), is taking shape. Recruitments are undertaken. Prospective executives for BVM are offered Rs. 1 Lakh per month, for a 11 month period. They are also  offered HRA. This Bihar Vikas Mission, is a parallel organisation inside Bihar Government. This will be responsible for the implementation of the poll promises. So, PK is not ready to change the system from within. He wants to build a separate organisation and paid for it. Mr Modi must have rejected this idea altogether. I appreciate Modi, because he is making changes in the system and not building any parallel Governance. It is ironical that right thinking Modi is committed to govern within democratic rules, whereas left leaning Nitish is supporting a parallel Governance! If this is a pact between PK and the parties, then the Indian citizen must question this.  You must know that he was with Mr. Narendra Modi since October 2011, and he could not sync his ideas with Modi or BJP even after three full years. Even then, he was trusted and Mr. Modi entrusted him with 2014 election strategy.

The other important factor is that, PK is selling ideas only for the sake of winning more votes. He will pick the issues that are most relevant for the elections. All dirty tricks are being suggested by PK;  like recommending Congress to woo Brahmins in UP during the upcoming Assembly elections. How he is allowed to pick the issues?  This is nothing but commodification of electioneering in a corporate way. It is harming the genuine Party workers. Many party strategists will get demoralised. Though the results may prove the worthiness of PK, the long term effect will definitely weaken the parties. The organisational structures will be fragmented.  This is evident from the recent news that he had asked Nitish Kumar to make him a Rajyasabha MP. This has created ripples inside JDU.

If PK is trying to bring social change, why should he change his forum from CAG to I-PAC? Why his right leanings have changed to left? Does not he have a holistic approach towards development? Why should he and his team declare loyalty to one party in this election and another party in another? Then what remains of the day?

I will end this unending story for now with a twist: CAG India’s portal is registered by a Spanish Marketing organisation called KRDS. It’s head is one Mr. Antoine Sandrin. Few facts from its own presentation:

KRDS is a 100% Facebook Agency, No. 1 in France with an ever growing expertise throughout Europe and India.  KRDS is recommended to advertisers by Facebook (Preferred Developer Consultant) and aims to be Facebook India’s top partner.  KRDS has experienced teams in Design, Development and Project Management to offer world class applications to clients with an active presence on Facebook. Our teams gather engineers and managers from French  and Indian business and engineering schools, all IT and social networks experts.

Prashant Kishor’s bluff is clear.  A person who aims to make India stronger, had his primary website registered by a social media marketing company from Europe! (The IndianCAG vision states: To make India a model of accountable governance by providing its citizens a platform to actively engage with the country’s political and administrative establishment.) He was the arm of KRDS until 2014, and then (mostly) created his own group I-PAC. Or, who knows, who is behind this group? Because, I am yet to get the exact credentials of I-PAC, its registration details, the regulatory authority under which it is registered etc., because they are not yet published for general information. In fact, CAG’s full name is ASSOCIATION OF CITIZENS FOR ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE and not CAG itself, as proven from the  Certificate of Incorporation.

My conclusion:

  1. Prashant Kishor may not be a bane to Indian Society but definitely, he is not a boon. He is destroying the very essence of Indian Poll activity: Cadre/worker based electioneering. By imposing new and tailor made strategies (resulting from the current issues, and not out of chronic developmental issues). Thought there are no rules to keep him away, all political parties must keep him away voluntarily. Let political parties have differences, but let them fight on their own grounds, not by surrendering their freedom of party building. This applies to all those parties which are hobnobbing with PK.
  2. If PK is really a social worker and political thinker, he must come out publicly and launch his own social / political organisation, and NOT some behind-the-screen / secretive marketing forum like CAG or I-PAC. No social worker will hide behind the politicians to promote a genuine idea. His non-appearance will only make me believe that he is cunning and secretive and not a silent change maker.
  3. He should come out with the details of his connection with KRDS. Why a Indian centric campaign should use a KRDS registered domain is still a mystery to me.

Let India be independent from such doubtful, hideous characters . We have enough !

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