All is not well inside Trinamool Congress (TMC) as multiple senior leaders and ministers have expressed dissatisfaction and vented anger against poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team.
In July last year, TMC roped in Prashant Kishor and his firm Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) for the upcoming assembly elections in 2021.
Recently, three-time MLA from Maynaguri in Jalpaiguri district, Ananta Deb Adhikari told the media in Kolkata, “After the appointment of PK’s (Prashant Kishor) team, the party’s organisational strength was greatly hampered. His (Kishor) team created division and gave rise to factionalism. I have written a letter to Didi (Mamata) expressing my concerns.”
Another veteran TMC MLA from Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district, Silbhadra Dutta, expressed his displeasure against Kishor to party leadership and even said that he won’t contest the upcoming election for Trinamool.
Blazing all the guns of Kishor and his team at the party workers meet, Dutta said, “A private company came here to chalk out the election strategy for money. They (I-PAC) are now telling me that I don’t have to worry about voting because they will take care of that. I can no longer adapt to this environment.”
People from I-PAC later reached out to Dutta to resolve the issue, but the latter is still firm on his stand. Last week, state food and supplies minister, and North 24 Parganas’ Jyotipriya Mallick went to Dutta’s residence to sort out the issue, however, the disgruntled leader didn’t like him.
Earlier this year, Mihir Goswami, the former TMC MLA from Cooch Behar said, “A party organisation will definitely fail if a contractor is controlling the party.” Goswami joined BJP in Delhi on November 27.
Dissident TMC leader, Suvendu Adhikari who recently resigned from all ministerial positions had reservations with the functioning of Kishor’s team. The Wire earlier learnt from a TMC source that Adhikari has a problem with Kishor’s firm taking major decisions on the party’s functioning, bypassing the senior leaders.
An I-PAC executive, who is working closely with leaders of various ranks told The Wire, “Many leaders are not cooperating with us, some even telling the workers not to help us in any way. Some MLAs don’t respond to our calls, and don’t attend meetings which we organise. These problems are happening in many pockets across the state.”
Earlier in November, TMC leaders from Hooghly complained to party leadership against I-PAC, which resulted in complete stoppage of I-PAC’s work in the district for about ten days.
A senior associate of I-PAC told The Wire, “Leaders don’t have control over the party, this is the reason untoward incidents are happening.” He, however, said that some leaders might ‘switch to BJP: because they know they won’t get TMC tickets.’
A senior TMC leader from North 24 Parganas, who wished not to be named, told The Wire, “Some leaders got exposed by I-PAC, their authorities were taken away, so they are blaming everything against Kishor’s team. Some of these reactions are expected. If there are any genuine cases, party leadership is looking to it.”
TMC veteran MP Saugata Roy defended Kishor and I-PAC, and said, “Prashant Kishor and his team is working as electoral strategist giving us (TMC) professional advice, nothing more than that. He’s no political biases, he had earlier advised BJP, Congress, Jagan Reddy of YSRCP, and AAP. His (Kishor) team is just giving unfiltered, professional advice to Mamata Banerjee to help the party perform better.”
For over a year now, employees of I-PAC are touring the state and deployed people in every assembly segment to assess the weakness and strength of TMC and the oppositions. A major assignment of these people is to identify and fix factionalism among grassroots and district-level leaders of the party.
A central team of I-PAC is stationed at Salt Lake, Kolkata, who are tasked to collate all the data and information sent by their team on field and chalk out an overall strategy and design campaigns for the party.