Prashant Kishor, 41, is an election strategist. Some even call him a public health expert. Before making a name for himself in politics, he had spent eight years working at the United Nations. His mother hails from Eastern UP whereas his father was a doctor in the Government of Bihar.
In 2013, Kishor hired people from India’s premier institutes and multinational companies to form Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG). Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party Bhartiya Janta Party owe their absolute majority and a thumping victory in 2014 general elections to Kishor and his strategic planning.
Prashant had associated with BJP earlier as well when he had successfully conceived the political campaign for 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections. Once again he was largely responsible for Narendra Modi being crowned as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the third time in succession.
During the 2014 elections, Kishor and his team channelised several marketing and campaigning strategies for the BJP, which included the ‘chai pe charcha’ campaign, ‘Manthan’ along with social media interventions. He founded the Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG), a non-profit organisation that consisted of around 200 young professions from top colleges and companies in the country. They carried out BJP’s marketing and social media campaign in 2014, as per a report in the Indian Express.
However, in 2015, reports of Kishor’s demands of converting his brainchild CAG into a specialist policy outfit I-PAC being rejected surfaced and one of the most trusted strategists in the NaMo government broke away from the BJP in 2015. Subsequently, he re-established the CAG as ‘Indian Political Action Committee’ (I-PAC). He later joined then Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and strategized the election campaign for his party during the Bihar Assembly elections.
A year later, Kishor joined the hands with the Indian National Congress with the aim of ensuring Captain Amarinder Singh winning the Punjab Assembly elections. The much awaited victory after a long time and historic by all means for Congress, party and the state largely credited the cheer to Kishor and his team.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had later tweeted, “As I have said many times before, PK & his team and their work was absolutely critical to our victory in Punjab!”.
Moving on to the year 2017, Prashant was hired once again by the Indian National Congress ahead of the UP Assembly elections. However, this time, he failed to influence the party’s victory and the BJP made a sweeping inroad into the state.
Prashant Kishor later moved to South India to join Jagan Reddy of the YSR Congress Party, Andhra Pradesh, however, 45-50 of his team members quit, as they were not comfortable working in the south, leaving the comfort of being in the north of India, the Hindi heartland. The credibility of the brand Prashant Kishor too was being questioned.
On 9th September this year, while engaging with students of Indian School of Business (ISB) at Hyderabad, Prashant Kishor had said that he would not be involved in the 2019 elections, as he wanted to go back to the grassroots. He also said that he had worked enough with leaders. He also denied media reports that he is joining politics, as quoted by ET.
“I will not be part of the 2019 election campaign in the manner and form seen for last 4-5 years,” he said.
However, everyone was taken by shock just a week later on 15th September, when Kishor announced merging once again with current Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal (United) (JDU) ahead of the party’s state executive meeting in Patna.
He tweeted, “Excited to start my new journey from Bihar.”
Excited to start my new journey from Bihar!
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) September 16, 2018
The Chief Minister of Bihar has rewarded Kishor by appointing him as his chief advisor and giving him a cabinet minister rank.