One of the topics that came up at the discussion poll strategist Prashant Kishor had with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at his residence on Tuesday was the Opposition's candidate for the post of President of India. Sources are saying that NCP president Sharad Pawar's name is at the forefront of the list of candidates.
The meeting was also attended by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and lasted for about two hours, though it is not clear what was discussed.
Meanwhile it is interesting to note that Kishor had met Pawar twice over the last few days before coming for the meeting with Gandhis. This has lead to speculation that he is helping build a larger opposition front to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next cycle of Assembly elections and later in the general elections in 2024.
Kishor's meeting with the Gandhis was "not about the Punjab or Uttar Pradesh polls", but about "something bigger", NDTV quoted sources as saying. The sources also said this is not the first time that Kishor has met the Gandhis and that these meetings are about "a bigger strategy" for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The meeting, according to sources, has also added a fresh dimension to Opposition’s political fight against the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.
Sources say that in Prashant Kishor’s calculation, the electoral college for the presidential election would become favourable for an Opposition candidate if Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik joins hands with the non-NDA parties.
The numbers in Opposition-ruled Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will also add in that candidate’s favour. However, Naveen Patnaik remains the only grey area as he is non-committal.
There are also talks that Kishor may soon join the Congress party as reports quoted party sources to suggest that he may soon have a big role within the party. There has however been no official confirmation of the same.
For Prashant Kishor, who shares good personal relations with chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Jagan Reddy, Arvind Kejriwal, Stalin and Uddhav Thackeray, binding the Opposition can be easier, but he needs to get the Congress onboard.
Meanwhile, Kishor had earlier stated that he doesn't "believe a third or fourth front could emerge as a successful challenge to the current dispensation". He remark had come after members of 'Rashtra Manch', led by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, met at Sharad Pawar's residence to "debate current events".