The BJP hasn’t crossed the double digit mark in West Bengal yet and is unlikely to do so, but the man who promised to leave his job, if the Modi-Shah team did manage to win more than 100 seats, has called it quits already. Ace election strategist Prashant Kishor, who helped Mamata Banerjee register an astounding win in the state, said that he was done and “quitting this space”.
“I do not want to continue what I am doing. I have done enough. It is time for me to take a break and do something else in life. I want to quit this space,” Kishor told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Kishor, who had earlier joined Janata Dal (United) as its vice-president and was later forced to resign, said he is not keen to rejoin politics. “I am a failed politician. I have to go back and see what I have to do.” On a lighter note, he talked about going with his family to Assam and “doing tea-gardening”, Kishor told NDTV.
Kishor is credited with Narendra Modi’s win in 2014 and later Nitish Kumar’s success in Bihar in 2015. He had promised to assist Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh in the state elections due in 2022.
Kishor made headlines in December last year when he openly challenged the BJP in the run up to Bengal elections, in which he was helping Mamata Banerjee set up her plan to tackle the extremely aggressive Modi-Shah team. Kishor had tweeted on December 21, 2020: “For all the hype AMPLIFIED by a section of supportive media, in reality BJP will struggle to CROSS DOUBLE DIGITS in #WestBengal PS: Please save this tweet and if BJP does any better I must quit this space!”
Despite the satisfaction of helping win the all-important election for Trinamool, Kishore admitted that “it was a tough fight”. “We went through hell. The Election Commission was blatantly partial and made our campaign difficult,” he said, however, adding that he was always confident the Trinamool would do very well. “Just because I said Mr Modi is popular won’t mean BJP will win all elections,” Kishor said.
Kishore said the Bengal elections were unique in the history of India democracy for the amount of religious polarization, which was never seen before. “There was large-scale polarisation across Bengal and the election commission, which must ensure it that doesn’t happen. They sat mum and did nothing about it,” Kishor said.
The master strategist had a word of advice for the BJP. “In defeat, people must be humble enough to acknowledge where they went wrong,” he said.
When asked about the most challenging phase for him during this election, Kishor said, “It was when Mamata Banerjee got injured (during a rally in Nandigram) and was immobile. We were worried because she was the only one we depended on for the entire campaign. So that was definitely a moment which was challenging.”
Kishor joined Mamata Banerjee’s team when the Trinamool was fighting mass exodus of top leaders, including her close aide Suvendu Adhikari. Most leaders who left the party had complained of Kishor’s interference in the Trinamool’s campaign decisions, including choice of candidates.
Kishor said the Trinamool Congress Party’s win in this election must inspire other parties to stand up to BJP and believe they can win.