On Friday afternoon, political circles in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere were set agog with a report on a TV news channel that Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu had offered a “mega multi-year contract” to poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC. Kishor had helped Naidu’s bete noire, YS Jaganmohan Reddy since 2017 and played a part in the latter coming to power on 23 May.
Speaking to Filter Kaapi, former Andhra Pradesh IT minister and son of Chandrababu Naidu, Nara Lokesh, dismissed the report as “fake news”.
“Absolutely fake news. We have not contacted them or anyone. Why would we?” Lokesh said to Filter Kaapi. A senior TDP leader who has Chandrababu Naidu’s ear and played a key role in trying to cobble together an anti-BJP front, also said he had not heard of any such proposal.
When Filter Kaapi earlier reached out to I-PAC soon after the news broke, a senior member of the strategy team sent a cryptic text message in reply saying “Well, how can you stop anyone from approaching you?”
Another senior member said many political parties in states where elections are due in the next two years have approached I-PAC to work with them. He did not confirm Naidu having approached I-PAC.
The news that Naidu wanted to engage I-PAC does not add up for several reasons. One, elections in Andhra Pradesh are a good five years away. Two, it is not even a month since the election results came in.
Three, Jagan a day after polling was over in Andhra Pradesh addressed the I-PAC team and told them he wanted the outfit to work with the Andhra government in matters of governance and policies. He also told them that the YSRCP will work with I-PAC again in 2024.
Four, during the campaign, Naidu had called Kishor a “Bihari Dacoit”. Clearly not much water has flown down the Krishna since the remark for the two to mend fences so soon. Kishor had then responded to Naidu with a tweet.
Five, Kishore will have his hands full with the Trinamool assignment in Bengal and even if Naidu were to be interested in I-PAC, he would want to see what magic the poll strategy organisation is about to create for Mamata Banerjee.