The Congress might have lost many elections, it has, along with the regional parties, won almost double the state Assembly elections than the BJP

Soroor Ahmed 

PRASHANT Kishor often makes absurd, outlandish and factually incorrect statements. The irony is that he still gets so much space in our television channels for the reason best known to our media bosses. Before promoting him they never inquired as to how a person, who had worked in health sector in Africa for United Nations and has no first-hand grassroots-level experience of electoral politics, could suddenly become a poll strategist in India. Anyway, we blindly accept anyone who comes from the West and hail him or her as a great intellectual and expert.

In his latest tweet he, without doing any homework, claimed that Congress has lost 90 per cent elections in the last 10 years. Without holding any brief for the 141-year-old party it can be said that perhaps nothing can be far from truth as in the last 10 years — that is since 2011– the Bharatiya Janata Party (with allies) has won election in roughly 16 big states against 13 by Congress (with allies) and at least 15 by the regional parties (without the support of either the saffron party or the Indian National Congress). And what about Prashant Kishor’s own achievement as poll pundit?

Let us start from 2011 West Bengal Assembly poll in which both the BJP and Congress were the big losers. Here, the Trinamool Congress voted the Left Front government out of power after 34 long years. At the same time the Congress made three in a row in Assam under the chief ministership of Tarun Gogoi, whereas in Kerala too the Congress was the victorious party. In Tamil Nadu, both the BJP and Congress did not figure anywhere. In 2012, both the Congress and BJP suffered humiliating defeat in Uttar Pradesh, where Samajwadi Party came to power. But in Uttarakhand, the Congress managed to form the government. In Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP alliance returned to power for the second time. At the end of the same year while the Congress won back Himachal Pradesh the BJP retained power in Gujarat.

In 2013, the BJP won Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan Assembly elections. But early in the same year the Congress snatched power in Karnataka. Then came the 2014 Lok Sabha poll where the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance returned to power under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Telangana Rashtriya Samiti emerged victorious in the new state of Telangana and the loser was certainly the Congress as well as Telugu Desam Party. In truncated Andhra Pradesh, the TDP won the election. In Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal swept the poll. Later in the same year the saffron party won Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana polls.

In February 2015, the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party won 67 seats in the Delhi election completely decimating the Congress. The election held in late 2013 led to the hung Assembly as Congress under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit lost the poll.

In November 2015 Bihar Assembly election, the Grand Alliance, in which Congress was a small player, thrashed the BJP-led NDA.

In 2016, The BJP snatched Assam from the Congress and the Left Democratic Front scored over the Congress-led combination in Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK made it two in a row.

In 2017, the BJP defeated the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Congress in Uttarakhand while in Punjab the Congress dealt a stunning blow to the SAD-BJP alliance. At the end of 2017, the BJP just managed to retain Gujarat while it won Himachal Pradesh comfortably.

The year 2018 was a bad year for the BJP. In the summer, the Congress backed the Janata Dal-Secular to form the government in Karnataka. In the winter of the same year, the saffron party lost Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to the Congress.

After the devastating blow to the BJP in December 2018 many political pundits started predicting the rout of the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha poll in the middle of 2019, though this did not happen.

But the Assembly elections held in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha saw the emergence of TRS, YSR Congress and BJD respectively — the losers were both the saffron party and Congress. The Assembly elections held late in 2019 saw the ouster from power of the BJP in Maharashtra and Jharkhand while in Haryana it just managed to survive with the help of Jannayak Janata Party.

In February 2020, the AAP once again crushed the BJP and Congress. However, in the Assembly election held in November in Bihar, the NDA just scrap through, beating the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left alliance by a narrow margin.

In the Assembly elections held in the summer of 2021 the BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in West Bengal while it retained power in Assam. The Left won for the second successive term in Kerala while the DMK-led alliance dethroned the AIADMK.

In this era of availability of so much instant information Prashant Kishor should have done some homework before tweeting some baseless stuff. It should be made loud and clear to him that though the Congress might have lost many elections, it has, along with the regional parties, won almost double the state Assembly elections than the BJP.

Prashant Kishor has worked for so many parties and shifted to so many camps in the last about one decade that it is hard to believe what he uses to say. The media has unnecessarily sketched a larger-than-life image of him and never asks any uncomfortable questions when the party for which he had worked perform badly –as in the case of the Congress in UP and Uttarakhand in 2017. Till the last moment he was claiming that the Samajwadi-Congress alliance would emerge as the biggest block, but the result was just the opposite. The Congress won only seven while SP just 47.

In Bihar, too, he worked for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United in 2015 poll, but his party could win only 71 seats against the Grand Alliance partner RJD 80 when the fact was that both contested equal number of seats, that is 101 each. Even the Congress which as a Grand Alliance partner contested 41 seats won 27. This was the efforts of the so- called election-strategist.

After the defeat of the BJP in West Bengal, Prashant Kishor is taking all the credit when the fact is that the saffron party actually lost the election because of its own style of electioneering.

As the incumbency factor was heavily loaded against Mamata Banerjee, her TMC was surely going to lose had the BJP not undertaken extraordinary offensive campaign from November 2020 itself. The effort to thrust the Hindu nationalism over the Bengali sub-nationalism backfired and all those voters who were sitting on the fence suddenly shifted to the Mamata camp and thus ensured a big victory for her.

Mr Prashant Kishor, you have absolutely no role to play in the TMC victory in West Bengal. Rather it is the BJP which scored innumerable self-goals. If the BJP fails to perform in the coming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab then the Congress and Samajwadi Party may get a shot in arm. Then nobody would bother for Mamata outside West Bengal. If Prashant is misleading the West Bengal Chief Minister he is doing a great disservice to her.

It is true the Congress-led team had lost two Lok Sabha polls, yet writing it off makes no sense. It also needs to be mentioned that the Congress lost most of these states not to the BJP, but to the regional parties. This phenomenon started long before 2011. In fact in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal the decline of Congress started four to five decades back and in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha, after 1989 Lok Sabha defeat.

Mr Prashant Kishor, give up the habit of giving undue credit to the BJP, the party with which you started your career in 2012.