Prashant Kishor
emerged on the Indian political scene as a mercenary data digger who could
score wins for political parties without him having to make any ideological or
partisan commitments. He is widely credited for being the person who brought
big data into India’s mammoth electoral process. But the 45-year-old political
strategist has consistently maintained that he is not without ideology. The man
calls himself a Gandhian, and is now, once again, in talks with Mahatma Gandhi’s
party – the Congress, the Indian opposition’s mainstay, now a defeated,
fractured entity, according to media sources.

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Sources close to
Prashant Kishore told NDTV that the ace strategist is in talks with the grand
old party about a potential role in the run-up to the 2024 national polls.
However, Congress is reported to have said that the conversations with Kishor
are centred on the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. There is also renewed
speculation on whether Kishor will join the party or simply work as a

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This story,
however, has played out once. After Kishor and his IPAC (Indian Political
Action Committee
) ensured a resounding victory of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool
in West Bengal, Kishor and Congress initiated serious deliberations.
Kishor, by his own admission in a series of interviews, said that there were
talks about him joining the Congress.

But the potential
dalliance did not work out. Kishore wanted to shake up the Congress, but the party
leadership did not want older loyalists to feel redundant. The episode left a
bitter taste in Kishor’s mouth as he went on to attack the Congress, specifically
Rahul Gandhi, saying that India’s prime ministership was not a “divine right”
of the Gandhi family. Now, the two are said to be speaking again. In fact, I-PAC
sources claim the conversation never stopped even when Kishor was slamming the

This is also not
the first time Kishor has considered joining a political party instead of being
an external advisor. Kishor had joined Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) back
in 2018 and was quickly given the position of vice-president of the party.
However, his criticism of the party for supporting the Citizenship Amendment resulted
in his ouster.

Kishore who has
keenly studied math and has pursued a degree in public health first landed on
the scene as an advisor to Narendra Modi, at the time, the chief minister of Gujarat.
Kishor’s data-based analysis of voting patterns is said to have played a key role
in Modi’s ascent to power.

The use of
top-notch technology, forums like “Chai Pe Charcha” in many ways transformed
the method of Indian political campaigns, while at the same time, making them
extremely expensive.

Until now, Kishor has
mostly tasted success. Starting with the BJP in 2014, Kishore has helped Andhra
Pradesh’s YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, the Congress in Punjab,
led by Amarinder Singh at the time, Mamata Banerjee, and the DMK’s MK Stalin
with polls. Kishor’s current discussions with the Congress, if they bear fruit,
may just finally be the thing that helps the Indian opposition to stand up on
its feet.