Baghel, Gehlot present in Congress meet, Prashant Kishor stresses on messaging to revive party

Two Congress chief ministers — Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel — joined a group of party leaders on Wednesday and sat through a presentation by election strategist Prashant Kishor to fine-tune his proposals to make the party battle-ready for 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The two leaders posed several questions to Kishor, including on his bottom-up design to strengthen the party organisation.

Given that both have extensive organisational experience in their previous roles as state Congress presidents and AICC in-charge of states, they are learnt to have focused on Kishor’s emphasis on preparing the party cadre at the booth level, besides improving its communication strategy, refurbishing its image and political messaging, choice of alliances and tactics, including creating divisions in BJP states where Congress is strong.

The deliberations will continue for the next two days and the group of senior leaders, who were asked by party chief Sonia Gandhi to cull out actionable points from Kishor’s proposals and find areas of convergence, will submit a report to her. On Wednesday, Sonia attended the nearly five-hour-long meeting at her 10, Janpath residence.

On Kishor’s presence at the meeting, Gehlot said: “Prashant Kishor has become a brand. He was with (Narendra) Modi and BJP for 2014 Lok Sabha polls; then he went with Nitish (Kumar), and then with the Congress in Punjab. He is a professional. There are many others like him — we get in touch with them, too. But Prashant Kishor has become a big name, so the media is focusing on him.”

“We have been taking suggestions from agencies and experts. Since Kishor has become a big name…he is in (the) discussions. If his experience comes in handy…to unite the opposition; to fight against the Modi government (then it will help the Opposition)…”

The group comprising P Chidambaram, Ambika Soni, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Digvijaya Singh, Jairam Ramesh, Mukul Wasnik, K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala had met on Monday and Tuesday as well. Surjewala said, “We propose to conclude these deliberations over the next 48 to 72 hours.” He said they are looking at suggestions by Kishor, as also by “certain very experienced people in the party”.

“Those suggestions include the ways and means to strengthen the Congress organisation and connect with the masses, gear up for upcoming polls, leading up to 2024,” he said. “It also includes raising to meet the aspirations of the people, reflecting the pain and agony heaped upon them by the government. The Congress organisation must adapt to all these changes, which is why this committee has been holding deliberations for the last three days on various suggestions given by Kishor, as also by various seasoned leaders.”

Surjewala said both Gehlot and Baghel are experienced and possess organisational and administrative experience. “That is why the committee thought it fit to request them to come today — to join the deliberations and give their suggestions,” he said.

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