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Monday, March 30, 2020

Inside track: Prashant Kishor thinks big

Pollster Prashant Kishor, who is from Bihar, wants to create a viable opposition political alliance for the Assembly polls later this year.

Written by Coomi Kapoor | Published: February 16, 2020 12:56:11 am
prashant kishor arvind kejriwal delhi elections Arvind Kejriwal with I-PAC’s founder Prashant Kishor. (Express photo)

After successfully handling campaigns of half a dozen chief ministers, ambitious pollster Prashant Kishor, flush with funds, is keen to emerge from behind the scenes to the centre stage. Kishor, who is from Bihar, wants to create a viable opposition political alliance for the Assembly polls later this year. He is conscious that there is a lacuna in the Bihar opposition with Lalu Prasad’s own family badly divided. Another goal, which, ironically, was originally inspired by Nitish Kumar, is to spearhead a national alternative alliance to the BJP by encouraging his many clients to join forces. They include Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh, Uddhav Thackeray, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mamata Banerjee and M K Stalin.

Modi’s rebuke

In his hard-hitting speech on the President’s address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi displayed some wry sense of humour in Parliament. When Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury constantly stood up to make interventions, Modi remarked that he reminded him of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju’s ‘Fit India’ campaign. When the Congress leader still did not pay heed, Modi added a rebuke, “The people behind you are laughing at you.” Directly behind were Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor, both recognised for their articulation and parliamentary skills, but ignored in favour of Chowdhury.

Jaitley’s last wishes

In his last days, one of the issues which weighed on BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s mind was the forthcoming wedding of his son Rohan, scheduled for November. Jaitley said he was too ill to organise the functions but the family should start the preparations. Jaitley died on August 24, 2019, but the Jaitley family decided to honour his wishes and began wedding festivities early this month, six months after he passed away. The bridegroom, Rohan Jaitley, and his bride, Meher, both lawyers, were married last week with all the rituals and open-house hospitality, just as Jaitley had wished.

Canny doublespeak

Prashant Kishor’s first public statement after the Aam Aadmi Party’s spectacular win in the Capital was to thank Delhites for “protecting the soul of India”. A bit of doublespeak since Kishor had advised his client, Arvind Kejriwal, not to make the mistake of taking up cudgels on behalf of the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act campaign. He realised shrewdly that this was not an issue which resonated with the Delhi electorate and there was a danger that Amit Shah would use any AAP statement against the CAA to his advantage. Kejriwal was invited several times to address the Shaheen Bagh protests, but Kishor warned him to stay away. The Delhi CM even deflected questions on contentious issues such as police brutality in Jamia Millia University.

Rahul out of reach

Recently, Rahul Gandhi changed his personal mobile number, which is now known to only a very few. Since he no longer responds to most SMSes on political issues, many see this as an indication that he does not want to return as Congress president. While guessing continues as to whether Rahul will head the party once again, the Congress itself remains in limbo and is losing ground. The latest instance being Delhi. In Maharashtra, the Congress is technically part of the government, but it is largely irrelevant, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar claiming that he is the Fevicol which holds the Uddhav Thackeray government together.

Ready for IPL final

The Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, was expected to be ready only by the middle of the year. But after the announcement that it would be the venue for the ‘Kem Cho Trump’ rally, an additional labour force has been working round the clock to install seats post-haste. Since the stadium will be completed ahead of schedule, the Gujarat Cricket Association now wants to hold the IPL final there later this year.

Paper weight

The trend in wedding invitations these days is to be eco-friendly, and many have stopped sending paper cards and merely forward invites over e mails and WhatsApp. For his son’s wedding, Delhi BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Mittal, however, opted for a large double-barrelled gilded box with a latch. Those hoping for some delicious edibles inside might have been disappointed. There was simply an elaborate embossed velvet scroll tied with a gold tassel, complete with an artificial emerald set in fake diamonds. Not surprisingly for such an over-the-top card, the venue is no less than the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

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