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  Opinion   Columnists  23 Jul 2021  Shobhaa De | PK: Can ‘mover-shaker’ pull off a ‘coup’ in 2024?

Shobhaa De | PK: Can ‘mover-shaker’ pull off a ‘coup’ in 2024?

Irreverent, provocative, opinionated... Shobhaa De has been challenging status quo for four decades... and is at her best when she punctures inflated egoes. Readers can send feedback to
Published : Jul 24, 2021, 1:16 am IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2021, 1:16 am IST

Prashant Kishor has emerged as a political A-lister pretty recently

Prashant Kishor. (AA file photo)
 Prashant Kishor. (AA file photo)

“Hello, Mr PK … all OK with you and SRK?” Prashant Kishor bills himself as a political tactician and strategist. That description in itself is a strategy. Imagine, this guy… I mean, come on… who has not heard of the man who has four-hour lunches with Sharad Pawar (“thanksgiving meeting”), three-hour bonding sessions at Mannat with Shah Rukh Khan and shares jhaal muri with Mamata Banerjee when he isn’t enjoying saapad with M.K.  Stalin. All these are described by PK as “courtesy calls”. I am suggesting a pop video for this mover-shaker, wheeler-dealer… who moves and shakes, and wheels and deals with the mightiest in the land. I have a catchy title and even a tune for PK -- with his clout, I’m certain A.R. Rahman will be only too happy to come on board and create a chartbusting hit titled “Mujhse Fraaandship Karogey?”

Prashant Kishor has emerged as a political A-lister pretty recently. His net worth stands at $5 million. Yes, he has been around since his days with Nitish Kumar and the romance with the Janata Dal. Nitish and PK fell out of love when PK dared to criticise his boss, who had taken a supportive stand on the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). Poochho kaisey? This “kutti-batti” with Nitish too must have been a shrewd part of PK’s political strategy, since I doubt that he does anything without sufficient pre-planning -- “Sirji ko tona maro… or phir dekho hota hai kya.” I like the man’s chutzpah. He has brains, is reasonably easy on the eyes, speaks with assurance, seems clear headed and shrewd. He’s one cool dude in an army of seriously meh folks. But here’s the thing, if PK wants to be THE main man… and take on NaMo before the next general election, he needs a tagda candidate as charismatic as Narendra Modi. The Third Front is filled with individuals who lack the X-factor. They work as regional superstars, but do not have the required oomph to wow voters nationally!

PK himself is a bit of an oddball. Known in the charmed political circles but hardly a “name” outside. Let me share a recent anecdote. I was on a jury for an annual Power List which was designed to identify the Big Guns in India from different fields. There were younger people weighing in, as we tossed the names of the usual suspects around -- billionaires, philanthropists, movie stars, unicorns, entertainment moguls -- you know the lot. The same thakela names kept popping up, and I was ready to fall asleep. Towards the tail end of a marathon open discussion, I said: “What about Prashant Kishor, guys?” My suggestion was met with silence. Finally, a younger person dared to expose his ignorance by asking: “Sorry… but who is Prashant Kishor? Or am I being ridiculously unaware?” I laughed and provided a capsule CV. More silence followed. There was much humming and hawing, as the other jury members weighed in with their responses. I figured if the man’s name didn’t register at all with this savvy urban bunch, he needed serious and urgent work on his “strategy” -- that is, if he wants to get his hands dirty in the first place. “I want to quit this space…” PK said laconically during a recent interview, soon after his triumph in the recent Assembly elections, referring to the speculation that he was about to take the political plunge. Frankly, why should he bother to sign up with any party or even start his own, when he is already in such an enviable position, with India’s sabse badey log wanting to court him? A king/queen maker always commands a higher premium. At this stage, PK has nothing to lose or prove -- not even his genius!
The ultimate coup will be if Prashant Kishor can wake up Rahul Gandhi and his mamacita from the deep slumber they are in. He can do that with one swift game-changing move -- bag Priyanka Gandhi Vadra! The Congress party has been reduced to a bad joke. At this stage, nobody is willing to take the party seriously, with good reason. But hold on -- if “Prash” (as his buddies call him) can pull off this final feat and save the Congress Party from collapsing totally… oh man! That will make Prash totally hot -- even to those millennials who haven’t heard of him. If anybody can get the lady to say “yes”, the entire Third Front narrative will change overnight. “PVG”, as insiders call Priyanka, has been busy with Punjab politics recently, much to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s delight. But she is meant for far bigger things and a major role, no matter how reluctant she is to jump right in. If not now, then when?

PK, the unlikely “star”, may soon have a film/Web series inspired by him -- what is there not to gasp at? He likes to describe himself as a “failed politician”. But hey, that admission makes him all the more enigmatic. As a “farmer”, he claims he is a grounded sort of chap who enjoys nothing more than connecting with his roots (Buxar, Bihar) and playing rustic. His mind is far more sophisticated than any of the other political players -- and he knows it. Mission 2024 is going to see an interesting battle for Prashant Kishor -- the man credited with Mamata’s win and Stalin’s triumph. The same man who’d earlier pulled off landslide victories for Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, before waltzing away to find other partners to dance with.

With the mind of an engineer, and the down to earth style of a farmer, he’s our man about town, cut from a different cloth than his wimpish contemporaries. No matter what he does next, every move is going to be deconstructed for hidden messages and clues. Sharad Pawar has no time to lose -- PM or President -- PK haazir hai. The others can afford to wait.

“Prash” has no known political ideology or loyalty which can stop him from playing footsie with whichever neta hires him for the job. His team works with cold-blooded precision -- and that’s what makes PK the big daddy in the arena. Zero love lost. Finish one job, pack up, and move on. One can almost see him sneer and utter Rhett Butler’s immortal words -- “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’’ -- as he completes one more pricy political assignment and moves on to the next one without looking back!

Tags: prashant kishor, mk stalin, mamata banerjee