Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress today denied any rift with Prashant Kishor's outfit, calling recent reports of a rupture in their collaboration "hugely speculative and unsubstantiated".
The Trinamool said both worked as "one team" and would keep doing so.
"There is absolutely NO MERIT in the hugely speculative and unsubstantiated reporting regarding the difference of opinion or working relationship between the TMC (Trinamool Congress) and I-PAC. Under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, we work as one team and will continue to collaborate in the future," the Trinamool tweeted.
There is absolutely NO MERIT in the hugely speculative & unsubstantiated reporting regarding the difference of opinion or working relationship between TMC and @IndianPAC.— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) December 23, 2021
Under the leadership of @MamataOfficial, we work as one team and will continue to collaborate in the future.
The Trinamool posted the clarification a day after senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Derek O'Brien's comments underlining the distinction between his party and Prashant Kishor's I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee).
Prashant Kishor, the country's top election strategist with a long list of successful clients, was seen to have powered Mamata Banerjee's massive victory in the Bengal polls earlier this year.
Derek O'Brien yesterday emphasised that Prashant Kishor's outfit "is distinct from the Trinamool" and is working on deliverables. Many saw this as an attempt to distance Prashant Kishore from the Trinamool's election victory.
The Trinamool has hired I-PAC for five years and it has targets, Mr O'Brien asserted. He added that I-PAC is a political collaborator and had "certain tasks to do for TMC" but the agency or any of its officials do not necessarily reflect the party's opinion.
"TMC is the first political party to have hired I-PAC for five years and they have certain deliverables to do. I-PAC has a reach out on the ground, communication and social media. All this is evaluated by the national working committee chaired by Mamata Banerjee," Mr O'Brien was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
"The main purpose of our expansion is to defeat BJP and enter those places where the opposition is weak," he added.
"Therefore, the TMC will not enter Tamil Nadu where the DMK is a pre-eminent force or Maharashtra where the Shiv Sena and NCP are there."
PTI quoted sources as saying that there is friction within the Trinamool over Mr Kishor "taking credit" for the Bengal win.
The sources pointed at the comments of new entrants in the Trinamool, such as former Congress leaders Mukul Sangma and Luizinho Falerio. Both said they had consulted with Prashant Kishor, not the Trinamool leadership, before their switch.
The remarks did not go down well with the Trinamool, which felt Kishor or "PK" gives himself too much credit, undermining their leader Mamata Banerjee's hard work and spectacular success.