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Congress ‘culture’ stalls Kishor’s reforms

NEW DELHI,MEHBOOB JEELANI:Celebrity poll strategist Prashant Kishor is likely to have a bumpy ride while negotiating authority in the Congress. Some conflict on his influence over ticket distribution in poll-bound Punjab and Uttar Pradesh has already begun, with senior Congress leaders wanting him to do nothing beyond heading the campaign.

Prashant Kishor

So far, the senior Congress leadership has strictly maintained that he will have no say in ticket distribution. But on Wednesday, Mr. Kishor had a blunt message for party workers in Varanasi. He said if they “failed to comply” with his directives, they would not get the ticket.

Mr. Kishor was referring to his March 10 directive, which asked the leaders of the frontal organisations — Indian Youth Congress, Seva Dal and Mahilla Congress — to submit a list of 20 “dedicated” workers from every booth of Uttar Pradesh.

But some leaders have missed the deadline. “How will you get the ticket if you don’t give me the list? If you go to Rahulji, he will also agree that the party needs dedicated workers at every booth,” Mr. Kishor said, betraying some frustration since the party men from Varanasi’s Ajgara and Sevapuri Assembly segments had not sent their lists.

Toeing the party line, senior Congress leader and general secretary in charge for Punjab, Shakeel Ahmed, told The Hindu that Mr. Kishor’s role should not be perceived beyond crafting a “door-to-door” campaign. “Who gets the ticket and who doesn’t AICC [All India Congress Committee] decides that,” said Mr. Ahmed. “We have our own process to finalise candidates and it cannot be sidelined.”

Slow working style
A senior Congress office-bearer overseeing U.P. told The Hindu that Mr. Kishor had already raised doubts over the “slow working style” at the AICC with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “And he wants quick decisions on whether the party should announce the candidates earlier than the previous polls or the party should start screening the potential candidates from this month,” the office-bearer said.

“But here [at the AICC] everyone works at his own pace. Secretaries take time to put a word across to general secretaries and general secretaries take time to carry the message to the high command. He [Mr. Kishor] hates to go through this chain, so he directly talks to Rahul Gandhi to move things fast,” he added.

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