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Will Prashant Kishor join Congress? What we know so far

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New Delhi, Apr 21: Describing Prashant Kishor as a brand with proven credentials, Congress general secretary Tariq Anwar on Thursday said the poll strategist is willing to join the party without any preconditions and his induction would certainly help the party.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Anwar said, wants to take senior leaders into confidence and seek their opinion on whether Kishor's entry into the party will be beneficial or not and then take a decision on the much speculated matter.

Will Prashant Kishor join Congress? What we know so far

Discussing the party's fortunes, Anwar said the Congress would be the natural leader of an anti-BJP front for the 2024 general elections as no other party has its pan-India appeal or its presence. He also backed Rahul Gandhi as president, saying party workers and leaders wished it too but ultimately the party would decide in the upcoming polls.

"Some say the Gandhi family should move away but the feeling in Congress is that if any face has a pan-India presence and appeal, it is that of the Gandhi family. So we want a leader who has a national appeal," the former Union minister told PTI in an interview.

Dwelling at length on the role Kishor could play in a turnaround for the party, Anwar said, "Prashant Kishor is a brand and he has proven that whichever party he has worked for since 2014, that party has been successful. The only exception is Uttar Pradesh (for the Congress-SP in 2017)."

Kishor, who has planned the electoral strategies of various parties, including the Trinamool Congress, AAP and DMK, wants to come into the Congress and help it, Anwar said.

"It is a good thing that he wants to join without any conditions or compulsions. He feels that Congress is a national party that can counter the BJP. He has realised that and he is a good analyst. Certainly, his joining would help the party if the Congress inducts him," the CWC member asserted.

Kishor should join the party rather than be a consultant, Anwar said. "He has said he has left the job of consultant and will not be a consultant for any party. He wants to join the Congress and use his experience for the party."

Questioned on the internal debate in the party over Kishor, the Congress leader said there is debate when a new person comes in or a new formula is considered as it is a democratic party.
"No one makes a decision alone. The Congress president is supreme, but the party chief takes into confidence senior leaders. In all the rounds of talks, she has called in senior leaders. CMs of two states have also been called. So Sonia Gandhi wants to take everyone into confidence and take their opinion as to whether his (Kishor's) coming into the party will be beneficial or not, and then take a decision."

Kishor on Saturday gave a detailed presentation to the Congress' top brass at a meeting chaired by Gandhi on the way forward for 2024 general elections, while expressing readiness to join the party.

Kishor, who has held several rounds of meetings with the top Congress leadership, is also learnt to have made suggestions on the upcoming assembly elections.

Elaborating on his stance that the Congress should be the fulcrum of an anti-BJP coalition for 2024 polls, Anwar said, "It has been proven that the third front failed, be it that of VP Singh, H D Deve Gowda or I K Gujral. This is what happens in a democracy that the biggest party gets to assume leadership, only then there will be stability."

"Congress still has won or was second on over 200 seats... that is what PK (Kishor) is suggesting to concentrate on these seats and make other understandings with parties," he said.

Congress should lead as all other parties are regional parties and have not been able to come out of their region, Anwar argued. "AAP won in Punjab but they don't have a presence in the entire country. Reaching the stage at which the Congress is would take it 20 years," he claimed.

Anwar also slammed the BJP for playing "bulldozer politics" with the aim of polarisation for political gains and said attempts were being made to oust Muslims from the mainstream and make them "second class citizens".

The BJP and the Sangh parivar's ideology is clear, they just have one agenda -- to create Hindu-Muslim polarisation and take political advantage of it, he alleged. They benefited from it in 2014 and 2019 and in some states, and have made it their modus operandi to divert attention from real issues, Anwar said.

"For the first time, the majority is being scared by spreading fear of the minority. A psyche is being created against Muslims....However, I still believe the majority wants the rule of the Constitution and a secular country.'' "This bulldozer politics is very dangerous and is like playing with fire. If you keep on targeting a community, the situation is bound to deteriorate," he argued.

The wounds of 1947 took time to heal despite the presence of mass leaders who tried to improve the situation, now "they are again taking us on that path", Anwar said. He alleged that the BJP's talk of 'sabka saath-sabka vikaas' is a "lie" and attempts were being made to oust Muslims from mainstream and make them "second-class citizens".

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