Prashant Kishor bringing BJP and Jaganmohan Reddy together?

Political strategist Prashant Kishor is active nowadays in Andhra Pradesh, a major state in south India, away from the political arena of the national Capital. Having campaigned successfully for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the JD-U, and the Congress not long ago, he finds himself relegated to the southern state. Unsurprisingly, he is eager to move to Lutyens Delhi.

Whether Kishore will work for the BJP or the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is not clear, though he is in touch with both parties.

At present, his team, Indian Political Action Committee (I-Pac), is stationed at the headquarters of the Sakshi media group at Banjara Hills Hyderabad. The group is owned by his new client Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s main rival. It needs to be mentioned here that Prashant Kishore is the first person to do political propaganda in corporate style with the help of hundreds of management and IT professionals.

Meanwhile Kishor has launched an initiative, the National Agenda Forum, apparently with lofty ideals. His team recently issued a press release: “On June 29, 2018. I-Pac launched a novel initiative known as National Agenda Forum (NAF). NAF is platform for citizens to augment their stakes in participatory democracy and decide the political discourse of India. People can register and vote to choose the agenda for the general election (2019), and select the leader they think will be best suited to deliver on the chosen agenda. The voting started on 11th July and [will] remain open till 14th August, 2018. The results will be announced on 15th August.”

The NAF wants “to reach crores of citizens.” Since the next general election coincides with Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth year, the NAF is “dedicated… to Mahatma Gandhi and his 18-point constructive programme, outlining the top priorities to be undertaken by an independent India… We want to re-imagine and co-create India’s priorities to formulate an actionable agenda for our present and our future.”

Noble thoughts indeed, but the real objectives may be more political and mundane than noble. For one, Kishor is known for offering professional services at a price, not for his involvement in philanthropic activities.

The question, however, is: why is he involved in a national rather than Andha-specific programme? Reddy is after all a state politician, not a national leader or even a leader with national aspirations. Or is it that he wants to become part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance?

This is a distinct possibility. There are several corruption-related cases against Reddy; he has spent over a year in prison; many cases are being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Therefore, good relations with those ruling at the Centre will do him no harm.

At the same time, the BJP has little presence in Andhra Pradesh; its latest ally, Naidu’s TDP, has parted ways with the saffron party. Therefore, it makes sense to have an alliance with Reddy. There may be some moral hiccups, but then in the poll season who is bothered about morality? Besides, the BJP did tie up with politicians with tainted reputations.

The NAF poll may cement the relations between the BJP and Reddy.