Election strategist Prashant Kishor began his Monday sending political tattlers in a tizzy, barely hinting at what his next move will be after the latest breakdown of negotiations with the Congress for him to join and revive the 135-year-old outfit's flagging fortunes.
My quest to be a meaningful participant in democracy & help shape pro-people policy led to a 10yr rollercoaster ride!— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) May 2, 2022
As I turn the page, time to go to the Real Masters, THE PEOPLE,to better understand the issues & the path to “जन सुराज”-Peoples Good Governance
शुरुआत #बिहार से
The cryptic message came a week after he declined a Congress offer to come on board as a member of a committee that would work on the 2024 general elections. Sources said the 45-year-old wanted a free hand to bring big bang changes and not incremental ones, as the Congress was keen on.
The announcement signalled Mr Kishor would return to his home state of Bihar, which was his base for a brief political stint four years ago when he joined Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party only to quit about 16 months later after a falling out with him.
However, he left enough ambiguity in his tweet to keep people guessing about whether he would launch a new political party or join an opposition outfit.
Sources said Mr Kishor planned to tour the state and was tilting away from the ruling BJP-Janata Dal-United front as he has avoided meeting Nitish Kumar since his arrival. He wanted to maintain an independent position for now, they added.
During his travels, Mr Kishor is likely to interact extensively with voters and find out about their problems.
Big on the catchphrase of "participatory democracy", he hopes to find ways to advance his work on his 2015 "Saat Nishchay" manifesto for Nitish Kumar which included piped drinking water and electricity connections to every household that were later co-opted by the union government.
Belying expectations among some of announcing a political formation on Monday, Mr Kishor has decided to hold off as he thinks time is on his side with parliamentary elections and state elections in Bihar still two-three years away, sources said.
Announcing a political party at this stage would have also jeopardised any future talks with the Congress, they said, putting a timeline of at least six months or a year before Mr Kishor made his next concrete announcement.
Prashant Kishor started out as an election strategist with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign for the 2014 national polls, and then went on to help defeat the BJP in 2015 in Bihar with a historic alliance between long-time rivals Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
He helmed Captain Amarinder Singh's successful Punjab campaign for the Congress in 2017 and also the Uttar Pradesh flub, which he blamed on having his hands tied by the party.
He played major roles in Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy's 2019 landslide, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's 2020 re-election, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin's 2021 victory and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's landmark win against the BJP the same year.
After the 2021 elections, Mr Kishor told NDTV he wanted to "quit this space" of political consultancy, but left his plans largely open-ended. A round of talks with the Congress then met with the same fate as the ones this year, and he went on to help the Trinamool and more recently Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao or KCR.