A cricketer, Prashant Kishor & Mamata Banerjee’s aborted Karnataka plot


Photo credit Twitter Mamata Banerjee

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, June 29: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s resounding victory in the state Assembly elections last year over the Bharatiya Janata Party had set the national ambitions of the Trinamool Congress soaring.

The TMC had quickly moved in the top gear to enter states where the saffron outfit is in power. The ruling party, guided by the election strategist, chose Goa and Karnataka, the two BJP-ruled states for its entry.

Kishor’s election management vehicle I-Pac (Indian Political Action Committee) works for the TMC on professional terms.

I-Pac teams spread quickly in each of the districts of Goa and Karnataka. The TMC contested the Goa Assembly elections, and failed to impress the electorate there.

By the time TMC faced the Goa Assembly elections, the ruling party of West Bengal had wrapped up its Karnataka project, sources revealed.

But before terminating the Karnataka project, Kishor had taken one of the top cricketing legends from the state into the confidence to lead the TMC in the state, sources added.

The cricketer has a national fan-following, and he enjoys massive support base in Karnataka.

The BJP too has held two rounds of talks with him in its bid to persuade him to take a political plunge for the next year’s Karnataka Assembly elections.

But he had already committed to Kishor to lead the TMC in the state.

I-Pac teams began enlisting political workers in the Karnataka districts to lay ground for the entry of the TMC in the state politics. The well-oiled machinery of I-Pac, sources revealed, within a few months had boarded a good network of political workers at the Zila Panchayat and district levels, as part of the strategy to build the base from the bottom, while the cricketing legend would have galvanized a fast and furious expansion of the ranks in the urban centres, besides taking in the disgruntled leaders of the Congress, the BJP and the JD (S).

“But a few months ago, Banerjee began making distance from Kishore. This strain came on account of the excessive interference of Kishor in the affairs of the TMC in West Bengal, which irked the Chief Minister even though he continued to enjoy the support of her nephew and the Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee,” sources revealed.

The strain in the relations between Banerjee and Kishor cast shadow on the Goa campaign. The Karnataka project was also aborted.

I-Pac members active in Karnataka were moved to other locations, while a good number of them were poached by the Congress.

Karnataka Assembly elections will be held next year around April-May.

The incumbent BJP will face rivals the Congress and the JD (S) in the polls.

The TMC’s national ambition isn’t new, as one Union Minister from the party rank had confided that Banerjee truly believes that if her party could win 100 Lok Sabha seats she would become Prime Minister of India.

Sources said that the TMC was convinced that the Karnataka electorate is eager for an alternative for “being fed up with the three parties in the state”.

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