Scorned Prashant Kishor plots Pilot’s solo flight; depleted I-PAC’s Chandel, Nadeem on job

I-PAC’s Prashant Kishore has found himself yet again in the thick of political action — this time an inter-party rivalry — but with trappings of the same buzz he generated for his past clients Mamata Banerjee, Capt Amarinder, Arvind Kejriwal, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Akhilesh Yadav, Narendra Modi and more such towering political leaders in India.

| Updated: 06 June, 2023 9:53 pm IST

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: At the heart of it, this nearly looks implausible.

But a year after political consultancy behemoth I-PAC’s bossman Prashant Kishor failed to clinch a deal with the Congress party for 2024 roadmap, it seems he’s seeking a revenge by exploiting the ever-escalating power struggle between Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and his rival Sachin Pilot by launching a mega campaign to help the hero-to-rebel leader steer clear of his runway for the upcoming state polls in November.

Sources at IPAC on Tuesday told The New Indian that the influential political strategist, who bragged to have relinquished the control of I-PAC while stationed in Patna, has now deployed his top personnel from Bihar, Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh teams to assist Pilot in shaping up final touches for his own party.

READ MORE: Politically Isolated Prashant Kishor Plays Cheap Regionalism To Remain Relevant

And If not, at least cement his own separate identity away from the Congress milieu that only last week saw the Rajasthan rival camps smoke the peace pipe with party’s general secretary K C Venugopal belting out a thunderous catchphrase — Dono ne high command per decision Chhod diya, leaving several in the media and his own colleagues in splits with the colloquial idiomatic expression.

Prashant Kishor has deployed his best men to help Sachin Pilot’s political project. Nadeem Khan (Center) , an alumni of TISS is leading the team while while Ayush Jain (right) plays a pivotal role in assisting Pilot in shaping his distinct strategy, independent of the Congress.

It’s now confirmed that a prominent IPAC associate and Kishor confidante Nadeem Khan is leading the team of six I-PAC members that is operating from Kolkata to provide support for Pilot’s political venture. This even as IPAC is itself facing routine resignations with several exiting the company on May 10.

Last-minute deliberations and preparations are underway regarding whether Pilot should announce a split from Jaipur or Delhi this month, considering the do-or-die battle of prestige lying ahead of him.

READ MORE: Prashant Kishor Declines Offer To Join Congress

The I-PAC close-knit bespoke unit conceived for Pilot also includes one Sourav Singh, Ayush Jain and occasionally Hardeep Duggal, a former TV journalist who holds significant positions in the company’s Andhra unit. Till April, the team was being ably guided by one Sushmita Das, who then severed ties with IPAC.

All three — Khan, Singh and Jain are reporting on PIlot’s every action plan to Vinesh Chandel, who is also another co-founder and director for the Rajasthan project.

At present, Khan, a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) alumnus who originally comes from Kishore’s Bihar, is also supervising West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek’s Nabo Jowar rally in Hooghly. Khan recently oversaw TMC’s campaign in Sagardighi by-poll in Murshidabad, that resulted in Congress victory. Sources in IPAC said that the consultancy firm didn’t take the by-poll loss lightly and eventually played a big role in ensuring Congress winner candidate Bayron Biswas defects to the TMC last week.

The bustling I-PAC office at Godrej Waterside in Sector 5 Salt Lake, Kolkata North that serves as the nerve center for political analysts and strategists is now busy preparing for an even closer collaboration with Pilot.

Numerous new hires were made last December to support the endeavor for Pilot and Banerjee — the emerging youth icons whom Kishor’s rivals and adversaries often address as his ‘preys’, that bring him victories but also earn him a sobriquet of a business dealer and croupier.

Insiders at I-PAC have also confirmed to The New Indian that Pilot had three meetings in flesh Delhi last month on three-point action plan.

IPAC sources confirmed that all the three moves planned by Pilot — a day-long fast on April 11, a confusing 125-km Jan Sangharsh Yatra from Ajmer to Jaipur that targetted both ex-CM Vasundhara Raje and paper leak under Gehlot rule in the same breath and his attack on Gehlot for sharing stage with Modi at development project launches.

Nadeen works as an Associate at I-PAC

“If we remember, Pilot had specifically said that his march was not against anyone but over issues of corruption. He ensured he made both Gehlot and Raje as his enemies. He even claimed that he wrote to Gehlot for a year and a half for action on corruption but nothing had been forthcoming on these issues. All that was part of the advice given to him by IPAC,” said a senior IPAC member.

Khan’s choices on LinkedIn for his likes and dislikes for articles range from CBI questioning on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Amit Shah’s poll bugle in Birbhum amid questioning of Anubrata Mondal and West Bengal governor’s call for dialogue with Mamata.

Sources in the BJP say that the saffron party has already sensed that Kishor, who had severed his ties with the BJP after 2014 on a sour note, would not leave his original ambition to seek a permanent political fixture for himself in the national capital or may continue to quietly guide anti -BJP opponents in several states.

This even as Kishor’s much-hyped 600-page PowerPoint presentation from last year faced outright rejection by loyalists of the Gandhis and devoted followers of Rahul, including influential figures like Randeep Surjewala, Supriya Shrinate, and Jairam Ramesh.

Ayush Jain is one of key I-PAC team members working for Sachin Pilot

But IPAC sources say this setback only fuelled the ambitions of Kishor and his equally over-zealous partner Pratik Jain.

Kishor’s political journey has been marked by a mixed record, characterized by a close intertwining of his business interests and political aspirations.

At one point, Kishor showed interest in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but when his association with the party didn’t yield the desired results, he openly criticized it, asserting that AAP could never serve as a viable alternative to the Congress or the BJP. The incident smacked of a rift between Kishor and AAP, which ultimately led to their parting ways. Although, eventually, AAP made strong inroads in Gujarat and Goa, turning itself into a national party with recognition from the Election Commission in Kishor’s absence.

Similarly, Kishor’s political alliance with Nitish Kumar also turned sour when he was dismissed from his position as the national president of Janta Dal United in 2020 for anti-party activity.

Kishor’s widely publicized 3000-kilometer padyatra (foot march) in Bihar, which subsequently transformed into the Jansuraj Abhiyan, garnered considerable attention. However, concerns arise regarding his current political affiliations, business interests, and his complex political history, casting doubt on whether this initiative was merely a diversionary tactic.

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