Top Congress leaders on Monday raised serious concerns over Prashant Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) entering into a poll tie-up with the TRS in Telangana for next assembly elections in the state, sources said on Monday. They said the Congress leadership will seek clarifications from Kishor over the development before inducting him into the party.
This arrangement with the TRS may come as a roadblock for Kishor's entry into the Congress as the party is seeking to wrest power from the TRS in the state. The sources said the eight-member group constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to formulate the party's strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls after Kishor made a presentation to the leadership took a serious note of I-PAC's deal with the Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Some senior leaders of the eight-member group present during a meeting with Gandhi on Monday discussed the issue and raised concerns and are learnt to have told the leadership that it should seek clarifications from Kishor. Kishor is keen to join the Congress and has expressed his willingness to do so without any expectations, but after the latest development, senior leaders expressed doubts over his commitment as he already has arrangements with the party's rivals in West Bengal and Bihar.
The sources said some leaders have said there will be conflict of interest if the Congress goes ahead with having a poll arrangement with him. The Telangana unit of the Congress is also not happy with the party for discussing its strategy with Kishor.
Earlier in the day, the Congress announced that an empowered group will be constituted to address the political challenges ahead and prepare the strategy for the 2024 elections. The sources said whether or not Kishor will be included in that group will be decided after his clarifications on the I-PAC-TRS deal.
The Congress is now posed with a serious challenge of ironing out this issue, more so because Kishor has had a tie-up with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. The TMC has "poached" many Congress leaders in the recent past, much to the consternation of top party leadership. These include former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro and Sushmita Dev, both of whom have been given Rajya Sabha tickets.Recently, former Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora also joined the TMC and Kishor reportedly congratulated him, which was claimed by Bora at a press conference in the national capital.