Dissent On Prashant Kishor's Entry, Sonia Gandhi To Decide: Sources

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi worked with Prashant Kishor in the run-up to the last Uttar Pradesh elections and sources say they have no objection to his joining the party

Prashant Kishor had a series of meetings with the Gandhis in July

New Delhi:

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will take a final call on the induction of election strategist Prashant Kishor in the party after a series of meetings with senior leaders, many of whom are opposed to the idea, sources told NDTV on Wednesday. Mr Kishor, who had a botched stint with Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), had a series of meetings with the three Gandhis in July, where a role for him in the party was explored in detail.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra worked with Mr Kishor in the run-up to the last Uttar Pradesh elections and sources say they have no objection to his joining the party.

But the party's senior leaders are divided over the recruitment, with some keen, saying it would be good optics for the party. Others say the wild card entry will not make a difference and the Gandhis must be ready to listen and engage with party leaders and workers, which they have stopped doing.

Mr Kishor had shared a list of plans to be implemented by the party from public rallies, opposition get-togethers and a host of other not-so-suitable plans for the Congress.

"Prashant Kishor has no magic wand," said one leader who doesn't belong to the dissenting group. The election strategist, he said, might also find it difficult to adapt to the culture and approach of the party.

After the death of Ahmed Patel, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been searching for advisers to help resurrect the party, which had a series of defeats in elections in several states.

Mr Kishor's experience with the Congress, however, has not been satisfactory and in the past, he had criticised the party and its style of functioning.

In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance had failed. For Mr Kishor, the only bright spot was Punjab, where the Congress had beaten the Akali-BJP coalition.

In May, Mr Kishor remarked that the Congress is a "100-year-old political party and they have their ways of functioning".

"They are not open to working on the ways suggested by people like Prashant Kishor or others. They won't be open to working with my style of functioning," he had said, adding that the Congress "must realise that it has a problem and then do something about it".