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Has Prashant Kishor lost his Midas touch?



Akhilesh Yadav Prashant Kishor

New Delhi, March 11 

Often credited with turning Narendra Modi into a political brand and bringing arch-foes Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar together for the Grand Alliance in Bihar, the magic of master poll strategist Prashant Kishor appears to have faded for the Congress, which suffered a drubbing in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

While his being roped in by the Congress created much buzz in political circles, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Kishor in Uttar Pradesh where many of the party leaders, particularly from the state, had expressed their reservation over his strategies.

Be it the choice to name Sheila Dikshit, 78, as the chief ministerial candidate for the state, or tying up with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party, his ideas met with resistance within the Congress.

In fact, Kishor — the brain behind the Congress-Samajwadi tie up — was dubbed a “sound recordist” by actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar.

“He is there to take the party’s ideology to the people in an effective manner using modern technology in the polls,” a miffed Babbar had said, after Kishor met Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav last year.

Besides salvaging the tie-up with the SP when it looked like both the parties would part ways, Kishor planned joint roadshows of Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and coined the slogan “UP Ko Yeh Saath Pasand Hai”.

But the campaign blitz failed to take off as the BJP, riding on the Modi wave, swept Uttar Pradesh and wrested Uttarakhand from the Congress.

Both political analysts and Congress leaders admitted Kishor’s strategies were a failure, but refused to squarely blame him.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Congress leader refused to put the entire blame on Kishor’s shoulders.

“In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP won in 328 assembly segments in UP. It is obvious that our strategies failed to counter that. The BJP was far more meticulous in its planning and execution.

“But can a single person be blamed. Who is to be blamed for the failed strategies is a question that requires a collective answer from the party leadership,” the veteran leader told IANS.

“The UP polls have proved that even somebody like Prashant Kishor can go wrong. It is obvious his strategies failed,” Praveen Rai, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), told IANS.

“But can he be solely blamed for the debacle? The responsibility lies with the leadership,” added Rai.

The win in Punjab has been a saving grace for the Congress, but experts credit the victory to Amarinder Singh rather than Kishor who designed the campaign for the Congress chief ministerial candidate, including the “Coffee With Captain” campaign on the lines of Modi’s ‘Chai Pe Charcha’.

As the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh became evident, Kishor found himself at the receiving end on Twitter with people mocking his strategies.

If actor-turned-BJP MP Paresh Rawal tweeted “Can anyone find out where is Prashant Kishor” other users wondered sarcastically – “Has Prashant Kishor uploaded his resume on LinkedIn?”.

But for psephologist Yashwant Deshmukh, Kishor was fighting an already lost battle.

“You can sell only when you have a product. You cannot sell vacuum. Congress’ condition was already pathetic in UP. So it will be wrong to blame Kishor for the debacle,” Cvoter chief editor Yashwant Deshmukh told IANS.


By Anurag Dey and Saurabh Katkurwar


Karnataka Polls: BJP releases fourth list of 7 candidates



New Delhi, April 23: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday released the fourth list of candidates for the upcoming crucial Karnataka Elections.


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ECI announces election date for Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh




New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday announced the date for the biennial elections in Maharashtra and a by-poll in Andhra Pradesh.

The two elections will be held on May 21 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Maharashtra election was necessitated as the term of six Legislative Council members will end on May 31 and June 21.

Anil Dattatrey Tatkare’s term from the Raigarh-cum-Ratnagiri-cum-Sindhudurg seat will end on May 31, while the terms of Jadhav Jaywantrao Pundlikrao from Nashik, Bhangdiya Mitesh Gotulal from Wardha-cum-Chandrapur-cum-Gadhchiroli, Abdullah Khan A. Latif Khan Durrani from Prabhani-cum-Hingoli, Pravin Ramchandraji Pote from Amravati and Deshmukh Dileeprao Dagdojirao from Osmanabad-cum-Latur-cum-Beed will expire on June 21, according to the ECI.

The by-election in Andhra Pradesh is being held as Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu from the Chittoor local authorities’ constituency died on February 7.

As per the ECI schedule, the date of issuance of notifications will be April 26 while the last date of nomination will be May 3.

The scrutiny of nominations will be on May 4 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is May 7.

The ECI also said the elections will be completed by May 29.


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Karnataka BJP MP Sreeramulu contesting assembly polls



Bengaluru, April 22 (IANS) BJP’s Lok Sabha lawmaker from Karnataka’s Ballari, B. Sreeramulu on Saturday filed nomination to contest in the May 12 assembly elections from Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district.

Sreeramulu, 47, filed the nomination in the presence of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Molakamuru constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

As per his poll affidavit, Sreeramulu declared his income and assets, including that of his wife Bhagyalakshmi, to be valued at Rs 18.17 crore.

He has disclosed cash and bank deposits valued at over Rs 4.5 crore and other immovable assets including property and buildings worth over Rs 12 crore.

Sreeramulu was the Health and Family Welfare and Tourism Minister from 2008-2011 in the state’s first Bharatiya Janata Party government, but stepped down from the post and resigned from the party to protest the alleged ill-treatment by the party to then cabinet minister and Ballari mining baron G. Janardhan Reddy.

He had rejoined and contested the Lok Sabha election in 2014 as a BJP candidate from the rich mining district of Ballari.

After quitting the BJP in 2011, Sreeramulu floated a regional outfit Badava Shramika Raitha Congress (BSR Congress) and won four seats in the 2013 assembly polls, after which he quit his own party to rejoin BJP. However, his BSR Congress remains and is identified as a BJP ally in the state.

Sreeramulu is also one of the two MPs among the candidates announced so far by the BJP to contest the assembly elections, with the other being Yeddyurappa, A Lok Sabha member from Shivamogga.

In a related development, the opposition BJP’s sitting MLA from Molakamuru, S. Thippeswamy, has decided to contest from the constituency as an Independent after he was not re-nominated by the party and in protest against the selection of Sreeramulu, an outsider, from Ballari district.

Till Friday, the BJP has announced 213 candidates to contest the 224-member Karnataka assembly polls. The party had, in its second list of 82 candidates released on April 16, fielded G. Somashekar Reddy, younger brother of Janardhan Reddy, from Ballari City segment.

The third list released on Friday had includedAKarunakar Reddy, another of Reddy’s brothers, from Harapanahalli in Ballari.


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