Prashant Kishor’s team interfering in Bengal govt work, alleges BJP

Prashant Kishor IPAC Political strategist - The Federal
Kishor, who had been critical of CAA-NRC had criticised its party for supporting the citizenship bill in Parliament. Photo - PTI

The BJP’s West Bengal unit on Sunday charged poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team members with interfering in the functioning of state government officers and asking senior officials to take orders from them.

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Kishor’s organisation, the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), denied the allegations.

Following reverses in the Lok Sabha polls, the TMC has appointed the I-PAC to shore up its popularity in the state ahead of the assembly election in 2021.

As suggested by Kishor, TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has launched a helpline number and a website to enable people to directly contact the party with their complaints and suggestions.

Citing media reports, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha claimed that Kishor and his team members are visiting government offices and, in the name of seeking feedback of the people, ordering officers what they should or should not do.

“We have no problem if the TMC hires Kishor to seek advice. The TMC is a sinking ship and neither Kishor nor any other poll strategist would be able to save (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee,” Sinha said. “They are interfering with the work assigned to government officials. This is alarming and unacceptable. How can a party (TMC) politicise government functioning? This has to stop immediately.”

Also read: When all else fails, politicians dial strategists for help

Reacting to the allegations, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister and senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said the allegations are baseless. “The media reports and the BJP’s allegations, both are baseless. Nothing of this sort has happened. No one is interfering with the functioning of the government. The government is functioning on its own and our party is functioning on its own.”

Officials of the I-PAC, headed by Kishor, also denied the allegations. Besides launching the helpline number and the website, the TMC has also unveiled a massive public outreach programme under which over 1,000 party leaders will visit 10,000 villages over the next 100 days to understand the people’s problems and redress their grievances.

Trinamool leaders to visit 10,000 villages in Bengal

As advised by Kishor and I-PAC, over 1,000 party leaders are visiting 10,000 villages over the next 100 days to spend time with local people and address their grievances.

“Some people are happy, but there are others who are questioning us on cut money, arrogance and misbehaviour by local leaders and the corruption charges levelled against them. We are facing a tough time answering these questions,” a TMC leader said on the condition of anonymity.

Among those participating in the outreach programme are senior party leaders and ministers Rabindranath Ghosh, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

“A number of people have also asked us why we were hesitating to throw out corrupt and arrogant leaders from the party. We will submit our observations to the leadership,” said another TMC leader.

Mollah was seen spending his Saturday night at disgruntled TMC leader Muzzafar Ahmed’s residence in Bhangore area of North 24 Paraganas district. The state food processing industries minister told PTI that he would do his best to win back Ahmed’s trust.

According to sources, the Lok Sabha polls this year, which saw the BJP bagging 18 of the states 42 seats, have debunked the myth of TMCs invincibility.

TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had in June cautioned party councilors against indulging in corrupt activities and extorting “cut money” or illegal commission from people for doling out government scheme benefits.