Prashant Kishor had deep doubts about how invested the Congress leadership is in tough decisions to revive the party, sources close to him said a day after the collapse of his talks with the party became official.
On the election strategist rejecting the party’s offer, the Congress today said “our doors and windows are open for anyone keen on joining us”.
“We are a party and we are in the process of making changes in the party and we will definitely make necessary changes to meet the aspirations of the workers and leaders,” said the party’s Pawan Khera, speaking to the media.
Sources close to the strategist say he didn’t feel the Congress and its leadership were invested enough in his suggestions, even though they appeared to support the plan.
One of the biggest giveaways, for Prashant Kishor or “PK”, was Rahul Gandhi’s foreign trip at a time the Congress was on the verge of a significant course-altering decision.
Instead of a “hands-on approach”, Rahul Gandhi, one of the top decision-makers of the Congress, appeared “aloof”, said sources close to PK. He chose to go on his scheduled trip abroad when he could have deferred it for the party’s moment of reckoning
Rahul Gandhi’s perceived detachment was in contrast to his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s enthusiasm, but that wasn’t enough, said sources. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president, was present throughout the deliberations.
Though in general, Congress leaders appeared to agree to his suggestions, PK’s doubts remained at every step.
Sources also said the scepticism voiced by a section of veterans in response to Prashant Kishore’s ideas and his entry in the party betrayed nervousness in the party over reforms that could, sooner or later, endanger their well-entrenched positions.
After days of negotiations and meetings, including speculation that Prashant Kishor’s entry into the Congress is a “done deal”, the first sign of trouble was when the party, on Monday, announced a “Chintan Shivir (introspection camp)” but steered clear of any questions on PK.
Yesterday, the confirmation came from spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala and Prashant Kishor in back-to-back tweets.
Following a presentation & discussions with Sh. Prashant Kishor, Congress President has constituted a Empowered Action Group 2024 & invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility. He declined. We appreciate his efforts & suggestion given to party.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 26, 2022
I declined the generous offer of #congress to join the party as part of the EAG & take responsibility for the elections.
In my humble opinion, more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep rooted structural problems through transformational reforms.
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) April 26, 2022
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who was on the panel tasked with deciding on PK’s Congress “resurrection” plan, tweeted this morning that “consultant or no consultant”, the party had to set its house in order.
“It is ultimately Congress which has to move and put its House in Order. Consultant or no Consultant!! I have a strong hunch the “Chintin Shivir” would lead to bring in a New Congress which is the Need of the Hour,” Mr Singh wrote.
I agree. It is ultimately Congress which has to move and put it’s House in Order.
Consultant or no Consultant!!
I have a strong hunch the “Chintin Shivir” would lead to bring in a New Congress which is the Need of the Hour.@INCIndiahttps://t.co/e6QKeViNzS
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) April 27, 2022
One of the big sticking points in the Congress-PK talks was the party’s insistence of incremental changes as opposed to Big Bang reforms that could upset many leaders.
Prashant Kishor, says sources, was also not willing to settle for only a seat at the table as far as Congress decision-making was concerned. For the ace strategist, who was used to being in direct touch with people like Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Amarinder Singh in the past, it was unacceptable.
He wanted a free hand and the leadership’s blessings to implement his plans for India’s oldest party and make it election-ready. So he turned down the offer to join the “Empowered Action Group”.