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Prashant Kishor: A Kingmaker And Not The King

4/05/2021 at 12:59 PM

By Soumya Jyoti Pratihari

Last Sunday (May 2) the atmosphere was charged across WhatsApp groups and phone calls. It was the day of election results of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, And Kerala. While TMC, headed by Mamata Banerjee won Bengal, DMK headed by Stalin took over Tamil Nadu overwhelmingly, BJP seemed victorious in Assam and Kerala went to the LDF as before. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, two states far apart and distinct with culture and language had one thing in common. A man from up north by the name Prashant Kishor happened to be the election strategist for both the victorious parties in the respective states.

An allegedly  polarized campaign in Bengal spearheaded by PM Narendra Modi and his confidante Amit Shah failed to create the much anticipated magic. It’s beyond co incidence that the same Kishor who was once hired by Modi in 2012 to re-elect him as CM in Gujarat and then again as a strategist in 2014 for the general elections, had strategized their defeat. Kishor was the army general who perhaps deflected now and then.

Kishor formed CAG, Citizen for Accountable governance, a publicity and media agency, dedicated solely to Modi’s campaign for 2014 Indian general elections in 2013. In 2015 the members of CAG regrouped as IPAC – Indian Political Action Committee and has ever since been an advisor for winning leaders like Captain AmrinderSingh from the Congress party in Punjab, Nitish Kumar’s JDU in Bihar, Arvind Kejriwal for AAP in Delhi, YS Jagmohan Reddy in Aandhra Pradesh, MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. His only loss was in 2016 in UP, where he was a strategic advisor to the Congress party.

In September 2018 Kishor joined Nitish Kumar’s party JDU, only to be expelled from the same in January 2020, for criticizing Nitish Kumar for supporting the controversial Citizens Amendment Act. In December 2020, amidst speculations around BJP Vs TMC, Prashant Kishor had posted on twitter that BJP wouldhave a tough time crossing the double digit mark. Kishor also promised to quit politics if his prophecy failed. He was right, BJP lost Bengal as Kishor had predicted but then Didi lost to Suvendu Adhikari as well. However, after the results, Kishor declared about his decision to quit his role as a strategist. On being asked if he would join Politics Again, Kishor replied he was a failed politician.

The statement isn’t shocking. Even the real Chanakya was a kingmaker and not the king. When advertising mavericks and media strategists design a campaign, they have a product or a person and a corresponding target group on mind. The other two veterans of the media industry who contributed to the Modi wave in 2014 are Sam Bulsara and ad Man Piyush Pandey. Their campaign execution is a case study in itself. The true art of designing campaign lies in the sheer intellectual happiness it gives to a creative mind. That’s what has been driving media mavericks. Piyush Pandey, the mind behind the most successful campaign for Cadbury in India “ Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” would never start a chocolate factory of his own, he might but then that would be sheer luck rather than industry acumen. Most ad men don’t start industry they create campaign for, it’s just another industry, just another client and just another product.

When Kishor strategized campaigns for politicians, he never created them as brands, he just leveraged their brand proposition and propagated his client’s cause to a larger section of the target audience, a campaign with a clearly crafted call to action, that was “to vote”. Though he is in the news as the Chanakya, the common voter sees the leader whom it has voted to power, not the advisor, their leader takes advice from. Perhaps Kishor has realized this of late, after his stint in politics as a leader, with the JDU, for which he says he is a failed politician. Or it’s just that Kishor is being humble and might use all his experiences in political strategies to find a party of his own someday.

About the Author:

Soumya Jyoti Pratihari is a recent postgraduate from Goldsmiths University of London. Apart from being a communications professional, he is a filmmaker by passion and a writer at heart.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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