The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue to be a force to reckon with in Indian politics for decades to come, political strategist Prashant Kishor said during a visit to Goa. The head of the Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), a poll consultancy firm, believes the BJP will have to be fought for “many decades”.
Kishor’s profile as a poll strategist shot up after he helped the Trinamool Congress (TMC), led by Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, retain power earlier this year by giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP a rare snub in the state elections.
Prashant Kishor is now in Goa, assisting the TMC in finding a foothold to contest elections.
While predicting a strong presence for the BJP in the decades to come, Kishor hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, saying he was probably under an illusion that it’s a matter of time until Modi’s power wanes.
“The BJP is going to be in the center of Indian politics, whether they win, whether they lose – like it was for the first 40 years for the Congress. The BJP is going nowhere. Once you secure a 30% vote at the India level, you are not going away in a hurry,” Prashant Kishore said.
“So do not ever get into this trap that people are getting angry and they will throw away Modi. Maybe they will throw away Modi, but the BJP is not going anywhere. You have to fight it out for the next many decades,” he said at an interaction hosted at the Museum of Goa.
“That is where the problem lies with Rahul Gandhi. Probably, he thinks that it is just a matter of time when people will throw him (Narendra Modi) away. That’s not happening,” Kishor said.
“Unless you examine, understand, and take cognizance of his (Modi’s) strength, you will never be able to put [in place] a counter to defeat him,” Prashant Kishor said. “The problem that I see is that most people are not spending enough time on understanding his strengths, understanding what is making him popular. Only if you know, you can find a counter.”
On how the Congress party sees the future of Narendra Modi and the BJP, Kishor said, “You go and talk to any Congress leader or to any regional leader, they will say, ‘it’s just a matter of time, people are getting fed up, there will be an anti-incumbency [wave] and people will throw him off. I doubt it. It’s not happening.”
The election strategist cited the example of how the Modi government announced massive increases in fuel prices without “any apparent discontent against the man (Modi)”.
Prashant Kishor pointed to a fragmented voter base in the country, saying, “If you look at the electorate level, it is a fight between one-third and two-thirds. Only one-third of people are voting for the BJP or want to support the BJP. The problem is that the two-third side is so fragmented that it is divided into 10, 12, or 15 political parties, and that is primarily because of the decline of the Congress.”
“It’s because the [support for] the Congress has gone down, that 65% has got fragmented, leading to a lot of individuals and smaller parties,” he said.
The IPAC has begun surveys on behalf of the TMC in Goa to help the party expand beyond Bengal. In Goa, the TMC has taken on board former Congressman Luizinho Faleiro to lead the party in elections.