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Polarisation doesn’t have much effect on poll results; opposition fails to raise contentious issues strongly: PK

By wasmulhaq 
Updated Date

Political strategist Prashant Kishor (PK) has been aspiring to become a full-time political leader. Kishor is known for his candid assessments of the government and elections. In an event organised by a national daily newspaper on Tuesday, Kishor disagreed on the importance of the ‘polarization’ narrative in elections.

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What does it mean? Is this a sugar-coated pill for the Congress party’s revival or is he himself preparing to launch an opposition front? Surely, there is something running in Prashant Kishor’s mind for the upcoming polls.

Kishor said, “This polarisation thing… it is much more overhyped than what is actually on the ground.” The methods of polarisation have changed, but how you used to polarise, say 15 years back, its impact is largely the same. And we have looked at the electoral data. In what we call elections in the immediate aftermath of the most polarising events, we have found that you are not able to mobilise more than 50-55 per cent of the community, no matter what the polarising event was.

Adding to his argument, Kishor noted that “for every Hindu who polarised and voted in favour of one party, there was one Hindu who was not polarised.” A simple math student will tell you that the BJP’s vote share is 38%…”More than half the Hindus are voting for the BJP.”

Kishor also emphasised that the BJP’s core “nationalism plank” could be countered by “sub-regionalism” in state elections.

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However, Kishor conceded that the BJP would remain a “formidable electoral party”. He said, “Once you secure 30 per cent plus votes at the India level, nobody can wish you away.” It is not something that will come down on its own. That said, it doesn’t mean that they will continue to win every election. It means that, like for the first 4050 years, politics in India revolved around the Congress—either you were with the Congress or opposed to the Congress—for the next 20–30 years, I see Indian politics revolving around the BJP. “You are with the BJP or opposed to it,” Kishor said.

Congress doesn’t have media attention

Kishor argued that the Congress felt it did not get media attention or traction even if it participated in street protests. “This shows the mindset, the DNA of a ruling party, which has yet to come to terms with being an opposition party.” That is the fundamental problem I see in the thought process of the way Congress responds to a situation,” Kishor said.

Opposition not raising key issues

Kishor argued opposition parties were not persisting in raising contentious issues against the Narendra Modi government. “Take Covid. A lot of people ask why, despite what we saw during Covid, there is no electoral setback for the BJP. But where was the protest? Where is anything from the opposition that has lasted one year or two… like trying to carry the voice of the people who have suffered during Covid and holding the government accountable? You do a tweet here or a press conference there. That is not what a mass protest is about, “Kishor said.”

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