Political strategist and Janata Dal (United) leader Prashant Kishor hit back at the BJP's Hardeep Puri today, a day after the Union Minister claimed not to know of the man who has been widely credited for the "chai pe charcha" campaign that helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to power in 2014. "Why would such a big leader know an ordinary man like me," Mr Kishor said, taking a subtle dig at the country's urban housing minister after he played down the impact of Mr Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) - a consultancy firm that has been signed on to help Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2020 Delhi Assembly polls.
"Hardeep Singh Puri-ji is correct. He is a senior minister. Why will he know an ordinary man like me? (But) I know him because some of the works of his department are relevant in the Assembly elections in Delhi," Prashant Kishor said, adding that it was "correct" for Mr Puri to not know about everyone.
"Why just the ministers? We also believe in having knowledge about booth in-charges from BJP. We believe in knowing their strengths and weaknesses. Our strategies (to fight elections) are different than theirs," he added.
He also appeared to take a swipe at the BJP over the controversial NRC (National Register of Citizens) that the central government had earlier said would be carried out nationwide; it has already been held in Assam and excluded 19 lakh people. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has already voiced his government's opposition to the exercise.
"In Delhi lakhs of people like me... from UP, Bihar... live and struggle to make a space for themselves in the city. If a big person like Hardeep Singh Puri will try to know about such a big number of people, it will go against his status, post, and dignity. It will not suit his status," he said.
Mr Kishor, whose wife is from Assam, has been fiercely critical of the NRC and the equally controversial amendments to the citizenship law, telling NDTV this month that it was "discriminatory not only on the basis of the religion but also on the basis of the class".
On Friday Hardeep Puri was quoted by news agency ANI as dismissing Prashant Kishor as "a chap who used to work in UN" and suggested neither he nor his party were troubled by the prospect of his I-PAC planning AAP's and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's re-election campaign.
Arvind Kejriwal's AAP launched its re-election campaign last week with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia revealing the official slogan - 'Ache beete 5 saal, lage raho Kejriwal (Past five years have been good, keep going with Kejriwal').
Mr Kishor, who helped YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy sweep to power in Andhra Pradesh polls in April-May, is also working against the BJP in Bengal - he has been signed on by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ahead of Assembly elections in 2021.
He has also been signed on by the Nitish Kumar's JDU, the BJP's ruling ally in Bihar where Assembly elections are due in 2020.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion, for the first time, the test of Indian citizenship. The government says it will help non-Muslim refugees from three countries provided they fled to India because of religious persecution. Activists say it discriminates against Muslims and is against the secular tenets of the Constitution.
With input from ANI