In the end, the naysayers won. The union didn’t happen. The Congress says poll strategist Prashant Kishor declined its offer to join the party. PK, as he is popularly known, tweeted, thanking the Congress but not without a parting shot that the party has to show collective leadership.
In this lies the story. But two immediate reasons ensured the deal was off. One was Prashant Kishor's call to Ripun Bora on the day the latter joined the Trinamool Congress, which the Assam leader referred to at a press conference. The Congress, which was smarting from Bora’s exit having given him a Rajya Sabha ticket from Assam, was upset with PK for this call. And when Prashant Kishor dashed to Hyderabad even as top Congress leaders were making plans on what next, many in the party said, "We told you so."
The contract between Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) also evoked a cryptic tweet from Rahul Gandhi's close aide Manickam Tagore, who said, "How can we trust someone who is friends with your enemy." Unlike Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi, Rahul never completely had faith in PK. Manickam’s tweet indicated this as well.
For PK, it was important to have a completely free hand, as is his style. While working with the TMC, he called the shots, and even someone like Mamata Banerjee fell in line. But Kishor became aware over time that the Congress would never completely accept him. Even while a decision was pending, some like Digvijaya Singh and AK Antony aired their concerns that a PK with a Congress cap would add to the chaos. "And those who have been with the party for years, what about them?” asked a senior Cong leader.
The fact is that from his experience in working with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, perhaps PK should have learnt that a party with many ambitions and egos doesn’t look kindly upon outsiders. A young leader said, "Many seniors have yet to accept Rahul Gandhi’s style and you think they will accept someone who will tell them what to do?"Therein lies the saga of a relationship that soured even before being cemented. In the end, a trust deficit on both sides took its toll. And there are many smiling faces and sighs of relief within the Congress. The focus now would be on whether some of the valid suggestions from PK would even be considered.