I-PAC, set up by Prashant Kishor, to work for BJP against wishes of staff; report

A media report has claimed that the Indian Political Action Committee, founded by JD(U) politician Prashant Kishor, has chosen to work with the BJP after a poll of its staff was allegedly manipulated

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

NH Web Desk

The Caravan has reported that the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), set up by election strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor, has allegedly manipulated a poll of its employees at its Hyderabad headquarters, while making a decision to work with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. According to a former employee quoted in the report, "“the bulk of the office—considering their ideological inclinations—would have said that they would want to work for the Congress.”

The Caravan report points to the following sequence of events at I-PAC:

  • On September 9, Prashant Kishor declared in Hyderabad that he will not be campaigning with anyone “in the manner and form” that he has been working in since the 2014 elections
  • The next day, IPAC’s management held an informal poll at the Golkonda Hotel in Hyderabad, asking employees to indicate which party they would like to work for
  • According to a former employee, who was present, an overwhelming number of people showed their support for the Congress
  • Two days after the informal poll, Avinash Tiwari, I-PAC’s head of human resources, sent out an official email announcing a formal poll to be conducted among staff on September 20, “to determine our partner (BJP or INC) for 2019 national campaign” through a voting process”
  • Tiwari was among the management staff overseeing the counting of votes on September 20, and results were declared at around 8 pm, which determined that I-PAC would be working for BJP

According to Caravan’ two employees maintain that the results were manipulated. An employee alleged, as per the report, that, “The results were pretty much white-washed.”

Prashant Kishor, now Nitish Kumar’s right hand man, maintains official distance from I-PAC

Incidentally, The Caravan reported that Prashant Kishor—who recently joined Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United)—maintains an official distance from I-PAC and is not involved with I-PAC, at least on paper. Kishor is neither among I-PAC’s directors, or mentioned among the team members listed on I-PAC’s website, said the article. A look at I-PAC’s Twitter handle and one could be forgiven for not realising this. Take a look at four of the last six tweets currently on I-PAC’s timeline, as seen on Tuesday, Oct 2.

Two employees told Caravan that Kishor “functions more as “mentor” to the advocacy group”. The article, however, quoted a current employee as saying “that Kishor continues to occupy a “prime position” within the company and said “a large chunk of business of the company comes in his name.”” The article further reported that “On the day of the poll, the IPAC staff also received an email from the organisation’s “Leadership Team” informing them of an “opportunity” to “assist Prashant in his political endeavour.””

Interestingly, a former employee quoted by Caravan said that “the I-PAC management had started pressurising its employees because, “They want a campaign team which is fully liberal mukt.””

The results of the poll going in favour of I-PAC working with BJP and I-PAC being “liberal mukt” would certainly be convenient both for Kishor in his political endeavour, and for his boss Nitish Kumar, as the JD(U) is an ally of the rightwing BJP and member of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

As a current I-PAC employee was quoted by Caravan quoted as saying. “I guess, election manipulation starts pretty close to home.”

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