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Prashant Kishor should join Congress first, then give ideas, says Harish Rawat

Speaking at an Idea Exchange session of The Indian Express, Rawat, an AICC general secretary, expressed apprehension that the Trinamool Congress was “weakening” the Congress in election-going states by poaching its leaders.

Harish Rawat

As suspense continues over poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s plans regarding the Congress, senior party leader and CWC member Harish Rawat has said he is welcome to join “as a worker” but cannot insist that the party should function in a particular manner after joining. The party cannot be “mortgaged” to a certain person or certain individual, however capable he is, Rawat said.

Speaking at an Idea Exchange session of The Indian Express, Rawat, an AICC general secretary, also expressed apprehension that the Trinamool Congress was “weakening” the Congress in election-going states by poaching its leaders. Mamata Banerjee’s moves are not going to help “Opposition unity” in “any way”, he said.

Asked about Kishor, Rawat said: “Anybody who is an Indian citizen and who has faith in certain values of the freedom movement and the Congress can become a member (of the party). So can Prashant Kishor. We are always open to new ideas. But the party cannot be mortgaged to a certain person or certain individual… He may be a very, very capable person, but we cannot say that, ‘Baba, now you do some work on our behalf, we will stop working’. The Congress has a very democratic method of working… everybody has a role to play. If Prashant Kishor feels he can play an important role through the Congress, he is always welcome. But he will abide by our constitution, our tradition… that is also very clear in our mind.”

Asked whether he meant Kishor should join primarily as a member, Rawat said Kishor was known and had expertise, and the party could gain from this. “But there is a method in the Congress and he has to adopt that. He has to come through that. First, he has to become the a member… then things will start rolling and we will find a suitable position for him, suitable task… because a man like Prashant Kishor… we will not keep him waiting for some job… But he should first join the Congress, then he should try to inject his views or inject how he wants the Congress to work.”

Recently, amidst talk of his joining the party and his meetings with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Kishor had in a cryptic tweet said that hoping for the Congress’s revival based simply on its Lakhimpur Kheri intervention were “setting themselves up for a big disappointment”. “Unfortunately, there are no quick fix solutions to the deep-rooted problems and structural weakness of the GOP,” Kishor had tweeted.

Asked if Kishor’s tweet meant the old guard of the party was pushing back against him, Rawat said he was not privy to Kishor’s meetings with the leadership.

On the Trinamool’s bid to expand beyond West Bengal, and its successful wooing of Congress leaders like Sushmita Dev in Assam and Luizinho Felerio in Goa, Rawat said this “eagerness” was “weakening the democratic forces opposed to the BJP”.

Expressing affection and respect for Mamata Banerjee, he said, “We were together in the Youth Congress and in Parliament for a long time… The way she gave a fight to (Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah in (the West Bengal) elections, I have respect for that… (But) she should understand that in certain states where her party has no presence, she should not, during election time, take away some persons from the Congress and give her or him some position. By doing that you are weakening the Congress in Goa and the Northeast. It is not going to help Opposition unity in any way. This is my personal feeling.”

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