Prashant Kishor (File image)
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at the latter's residence on Tuesday, creating a fresh buzz in the political circles. Kishor has recently held talks with NCP chief Sharad Pawar leading to speculation that he was helping build a larger opposition front to take on the BJP in the next cycle of assembly elections and later in the 2024 general elections.
The meeting with Kishor, who is Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's principal advisor, also came in the backdrop of ongoing discussions on a likely revamp of the party's state unit, but AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said that "Kishor did not come to negotiate on the Punjab issue." AICC general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (Uttar Pradesh) and KC Venugopal (organisation) were also present at the meeting.
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Kishor had earlier met Amarinder Singh on the impending changes in the Punjab Congress. There was no official word on what was discussed at the meeting with Kishor that lasted almost over 90 minutes.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu remain at loggerheads in the state with the Congress keen to placate them both in the revamp exercise ahead of assembly polls next year. Rawat, who is Punjab in-charge, however played down Kishor's meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
"Rahul Gandhi is a national leader. All kinds of people meet him and talk to him, and he may take inputs. That does not mean Prashant Kishor has come to negotiate on Punjab affairs. Harish Rawat will speak to Rahul Gandhi on Punjab affairs," Rawat said after meeting Gandhi. He said that Rahul Gandhi was the only leader who was speaking to the government eyeball to eyeball.
"Had anything on Punjab been discussed, I would have been engaged," Rawat said. The former Uttrakhand CM also said that the party was working to ensure that both Punjab CM and Sidhu worked together for the 2022 state elections.
"There will be good news for Punjab in the next three to four days," Rawat said, adding that both chief minister and Sidhu had said that the decision of the leadership would be acceptable to them. Asked about Sidhu's tweets which appeared conciliatory of the AAP today, Rawat said, "Mr Sidhu has his own style of speaking. I am in no position to modify that.
"Both CM and Sidhu are leaders of the Congress and our attempt is that both should come together for the 2022 assembly polls." Sidhu has triggered speculation over his future in the Congress after he tweeted a video where AAP leaders have lauded him.
Sidhu later targeted the AAP saying that the party which is now criticising him has praised him in the past. Amid the tiff between the two leaders, the Gandhis have met the Punjab chief minister and Sidhu separately.
There have been hectic deliberations over the past few days over the likely changes in the Punjab government and the party's state unit. Both Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have also met the three-member AICC panel headed by Mallikarjun Kharge. The panel had earlier submitted its report to the Congress chief with its recommendations.
The CM had then said any decision taken by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi would be acceptable to him and the party.