- Breakdown in talks for a second time
- Seniors would not agree to give him a free hand
The Congress was not prepared to the overhaul suggested by election strategist Prashant Kishor (PK). PK was not prepared to work for the party from within with hands tied. He wanted a free hand which means his decisions and policies will be implemented by all including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others. Congress, instead, settled for incremental changes by having a chintan sivir at Udaypur in Rajasthan on 13 May to 15 May and then go by the advice of the ‘Empowered Action Group 2024.’ It was not a seat at the table that KP was expecting. He wanted a free hand where he can deal with only top leaders and get things done through his team. PK refused to join the group. He said a firm no to the idea of his joining the Congress party in any capacity.
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The second round of talks between Sonia Gandhi and Prashant Kishor started and proceeded systematically. His declaration that he has nothing to do with I-PAC. There were prolonged confabulations within the Congress. Majority of the senior leaders were against PK’s conditions. The breakup was mutual and without any bad blood. The coterie which has been running Congress war room since 1998, Sonia’s era, was reluctant to allow PK to run the show in their place.
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Sonia Gandhi made it a point to keep the senior leaders involved at every stage of decision making unlike last time when the Family took all the decisions. It is said it was not on account of PK having discussions with Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) because the strategist informed the Congress chief beforehand that he was going to Hyderabad to meet KCR. In fact, PK was reluctant to join the Congress. He expressed his reservations in his talks with KCR on the question of joining the grand old party.
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PK’s suggestion was that he be allowed to play the role of a disruptor. Sonia Gandhi, herself being a conservative, was against such a drastic course of action. The high command was not prepared to give the reins of the party to a strategist making all the senior and experienced leaders secondary. Congress sources said that there was no acrimony or blame-game before the decision to part ways was taken. There were presentations, deliberations, explanations while questions asked and answered.
“In my humble opinion, more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems through transformational reforms,” said PK in a tweet. What the Congress offered was considered insufficient by PK. He was reminded of his experience with the party five years ago during 2017 UP elections where his suggestions were not followed seriously. “On my side, I had a bad experience of working with them on UP. And hence I was very skeptical. I did not want to get in having my hands tied,” said PK after the breakdown in talks last year. He also said the Congress was justified in having doubts about his total loyalty looking at his own track record of working for so many parties.
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