In the past, the political strategists have delivered big victories for Modi, Nitish Kumar and Capt. Amarinder Singh.

Prashant Kishor enters south India with Jagan Reddy but will his Midas touch work for YSRCP
news Politics Sunday, July 09, 2017 - 16:52

The elections may be slated for 2019 in Andhra Pradesh, but the politicking has already begun. And the one development that has gripped the imagination of the media and political circles in the state is the entrance of Prashant Kishor into the political ring. The election strategist, whose organisation I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee) has delivered big wins in elections for names like Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar, and Captain Amarinder Singh, is now foraying into south India; and the first party he will be working with is Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP.

The YSRCP Chief Jagan Reddy introduced the strategist to his party workers at their plenary on Sunday, and said, “This is Prashant Kishor, and he will help us with Mission 2019.”

However, unlike the other leaders that I-PAC has worked with in north India, Jagan Reddy will not be an easy customer. With multiple ED and CBI cases against him, Jagan is seen as a corrupt leader, and the political circles in Andhra are curious to see if Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC will be able to counter it.

I-PAC, however, is confident that they will be able to work with Jagan’s ‘positive attributes’, a source who works closely with the organisation told TNM.

"Jagan Mohan Reddy does have issues as there are cases of corruption against him. Most Indian politicians have something good or bad about them. IPAC will have to work on Jagan's positive attributes," he said.

Who is Prashant Kishor, and what is I-PAC?

Prashant Kishor is a political strategist, whose group, Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) is credited with ensuring Narendra Modi and the BJP’s victory in the 2014 general elections.

Soon after, Prashant and others formed the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) and worked with Modi’s political rival, Nitish Kumar, in Bihar. In 2015, Prashant’s strategies are believed to have resulted in the re-election of Nitish Kumar as the state’s Chief Minister for a third term.

I-PAC’s next assignment was in Uttar Pradesh - and while they were successful in bringing the Congress and the Samajwadi party together, the combine did not get any results in the elections.

However, the elections in Punjab held at the same time as UP proved to be more successful for the I-PAC team. The Congress, backed by the I-PAC strategists, had a massive victory in the state, and Captain Amarinder Singh became the Chief Minister.

According to their Facebook description, “I-PAC is India’s first cross party advocacy group equivalent to a ‘Political Action Committee’ which endeavors to support the election of visionary, progressive and inclusive leaders to public offices. I-PAC envisions to work towards an India where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people.”

The Andhra experiment

The group’s entry into Andhra, though, has been fraught with what they call “uninformed speculation” and some false reports.

One news report claimed that Prashant Kishor was hired by Jagan Reddy for Rs 250 crore - a claim that I-PAC has refuted in their official Twitter account as ‘Absolute bunkum’.

Recently, another news report did the rounds, claiming that the I-PAC has conducted surveys in the state and has given feedback to Jagan on how to restructure the party. According to the reports, I-PAC has advised Jagan to keep senior leaders away from the party.

However, I-PAC has refuted the reports, and has claimed that they have neither done a survey nor given feedback to Jagan on any such matter.

Combined with the corruption allegations against Jagan, the speculation around what the group is advising the leader on is apparently complicating their job in the state.

Cases against Jagan

The allegations against Jagan relate to the period 2004-2009. Jaganmohan reddy, who was arrested in May 2012, spent 16 months in jail before he was released on bail in 2013.

The allegations suggest that Jagan Reddy, in criminal conspiracy with others, got allotted a mining lease to Bharathi Cement Corporation Private Limited illegally, and received bribes from various persons/companies in the guise of investments in his group companies as 'quid pro quo' for undue favours granted to them by the Andhra Pradesh government when Jagan's father YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the Chief Minister.

The CBI has filed 11 chargesheets against Jagan, senior government officials, and businessmen from Andhra in the 'quid pro quo' investment case.

The ED's zonal office in Hyderabad has said that it has registered a criminal case against Jaganmohan Reddy and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The ED said its investigations revealed that Jaganmohan Reddy laundered the proceeds of crime through his group companies Sandur Power, Classic Realty, Silicon Builders, Saraswati Power and Industries and 10 other companies in the form of investments, purchase of movable and immovable properties and third party payments etc.

The ED has already attached assets worth over Rs 1,000 crore in the overall PMLA cases.

In addition to the CBI and the ED, Jagan has also been probed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Indian Revenue Service (IRS).

(With IANS inputs)