Hyderabad, New Delhi:
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is camping at Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s official residence in Hyderabad since Saturday morning, setting off a new round of speculation a day before a crucial meeting in Congress on whether he will join the party’s desperate attempt to bounce back ahead of the 2024 election.
Mr Kishor has been holding meetings with Mr Rao, popularly known as KCR, at his official residence Pragati Bhavan in the heart of Hyderabad. The poll strategist reached the Telangana capital on Saturday morning and stayed at the Chief Minister’s official residence overnight. Discussions between the two are expected to continue today.
Earlier meetings between the two had happened at KCR’s farmhouse at Erravelli, about 62 km away. Mr Kishor was spotted touring some villages and getting people’s feedback as well.
More recently, KCR had announced at a press conference that the poll strategist will assist him in the run-up to the Telangana Assembly election, due next year, as well as the 2024 general election.
What makes the development significant is that the Congress continues to be the key opposition party in Telangana. Mr Kishor’s negotiations with the grand old party and TRS simultaneously, therefore, can prove to be a hurdle in his talks with the Congress or KCR-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi or throw up new political equations.
There is speculation on whether KCR would end his tie-up with Mr Kishor or the poll strategist would say his team at IPAC is handling the TRS account while he keeps a distance.
Sources have confirmed to NDTV that Mr Kishor, in a presentation to the Congress leadership on April 16, had suggested an alliance between Congress and KCR’s party in Telangana.
Neither the TRS nor the Congress in Telangana would be keen on the idea. The state Congress chief Revanth Reddy has been very sharply critical of the KCR and his son K T Rama Rao.
As part of its preparations for the Assembly polls in 2023, Mr Reddy has been organising meetings that have been very well attended. Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to visit Telangana on May 6 where he will be addressing a massive political meeting.
Against this backdrop, Mr Kishor’s meeting with KCR has raised murmurs in the Congress.
KCR, besides looking to hold on to his support base on his home turf, has also been looking to play a national role ahead of the 2024 elections.
Besides making strong statements such as “throw BJP into Bay of Bengal”, he has also met key Opposition leaders such as DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and NCP president Sharad Pawar, apparently to forge a united Opposition front.
Sources say KCR may see political sense in the Congress being a part of the national political front that would try to challenge and oust the BJP at the Centre but how they would resolve the issue in Telangana remains tricky.
As for Mr Kishor’s talks with the Congress, a seven-member panel of top party leaders has submitted a report to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the poll strategist’s roadmap on revamping the party that has suffered a series of poll debacles over the past several years.
This committee is headed by former Union Minister P Chidambaram and comprises senior leaders Mukul Wasnik, Ambika Soni, K C Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Tomorrow’s meeting will follow several rounds of talks between the two sides during which Mr Kishor has proposed his plan to revamp the party and the Congress leaders have put pointed questions to him.