'BJP Going To Be Number One In West Bengal': Poll Strategist Prashant Kishor

Kishor pointed out that PM Modi chose to contest from Uttar Pradesh in addition to his home state Gujarat in 2014, 'because you cannot win India unless you win the Hindi heartland or have a significant presence in the Hindi heartland'.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishore | Photo: PTI

Political strategist Prashant Kishor recently asserted that according to him, the Bharatiya Janata Party might secure majority votes in West Bengal in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He also said that baring Karnataka, the central ruling party might see a significant rise in vote share in down south of the country.

During a recent interview, Kishor said even though the BJP seems very powerful, they're not 'invincible'. He mentioned that the opposition had three good chances to stop the BJP but they messed up because they were lazy and had misplaced strategies.

Kishor reportedly said, "They (BJP) will either be first or second party in Telangana which is a big thing. They will be number one in Odisha for sure."

Speaking of other regions and the vote share that he predicts, he said, "You would be surprised as, in all likelihood, to my mind, the BJP is going to be the number one party in West Bengal," he said.

Kishor added that BJP's vote share may hit double-digit percentage in Tamil Nadu.

Prashant Kishor on Andhra Pradesh candidates

Speaking of Andhra Pradesh, where assembly polls will be held alongside the Lok Sabha elections, Kishor said Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy will find it "very difficult" to come back.

Kishor had been employed by Reddy in 2019, during the time when Reddy's YSRC party defeated the ruling Telugu Desam Party, which is currently an ally of the BJP.

Kishor explained that Reddy, like former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, has gone into a "provider" mode for his constituents, instead of being a fulfiller of people's aspirations. Paraphrased: He compared the situation to the way ancient kings used to provide their people with provisions, but nothing beyond that.

Similarly, Reddy has ensured cash transfer to people but has done little to provide jobs or boost the stagnating development of the state, he added.

Prashant Kishor on Lok Sabha polls

Referring to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections that begins on April 19, he mentioned that the Bharatiya Janata Partywill face difficulties only if the opposition, particularly the Congress, manages to secure a loss of approximately 100 seats in their strongholds in northern and western India.

However, he believes that this scenario is highly unlikely to occur.

"By and large, the BJP will be able to hold its ground in these regions," he said.

Kishor mentioned that the BJP has actively and visibly worked towards increasing its presence in southern and eastern India in recent years. Prominent leaders such as Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have regularly visited these states.

In contrast, he said, the opposition has shown minimal interest in these regions.

"Count the number of visits the prime minister had made to Tamil Nadu in the last five years versus Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi or any other opposition leader for that matter made in battleground states. Your fight is in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh but you are touring Manipur and Meghalaya. Then how you will get success," he said in an apparent swipe at Rahul Gandhi.

Asked about his take on Rahul Gandhi's reported reluctance to contest from his family's pocket borough Amethi after losing the seat to Smriti Irani in 2019, he said the opposition party cannot win the country by winning Kerala alone.

"If you do not win in UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, there is no benefit if you win from Wayanad. Strategically, I can say that letting that space (Amethi) go will only send a wrong message," Kishor said

He noted that Modi had chosen to contest from Uttar Pradesh in addition to his home state Gujarat in 2014 "because you cannot win India unless you win the Hindi heartland or have a significant presence in the Hindi heartland."

According to him, the formation of the INDIA bloc by opposition parties to challenge the BJP is not a desirable or effective strategy to defeat the ruling party since there is already a direct competition between two parties in almost 350 seats.

The BJP has been winning because parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, RJD, NCP and Trinamool Congress are unable to take it head-on in their own turfs, he said.

They have no narrative, face or agenda, he said.

Kishor, though, rejected suggestions that a third straight win will clear the path for a long era of BJP domination, noting that the decline of the Congress began after it registered its biggest win in 1984 and has since been unable to come to power on its own.

"This is a big illusion," he said of the BJP's perceived unstoppable march under Modi, while noting that opposition parties, especially the Congress, failed to capitalise whenever the ruling party was on the backfoot after 2014.


He said the BJP had a long barren phase electorally in 2015 and 2016 when it lost several assembly polls except in Assam but the opposition allowed it to make a comeback.

The party again had a poor run post-demonetisation after its win in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in 2017 when it almost lost power in Gujarat and was defeated in several states in 2018, but the Congress "blundered" in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Modi suffered from a dip in his approval ratings following the Covid outbreak in 2020 and the BJP lost badly in West Bengal. Instead of mounting any challenge, opposition leaders sat at their homes, allowing the prime minister to make a political comeback, he said.


"If you keep dropping catches, the batter will score a century, especially if he is a good batter," Kishor said.

He, however, asserted that the BJP is unlikely to win 370 seats which the part has set as their target for the polls.

Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Kerala together account for 204 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha but the BJP couldn't cross 50 seats in all these states put together either in 2014 or 2019 when it won 29 and 47 constituencies respectively.

As a political observer, he is more focused on the post-poll scenario as to what will happen if Modi gets another big mandate, more so as the prime minister has frequently spoken about "big decisions" to be taken in his third term.


While BJP supporters are happy about "fundamental changes" coming, he said, those opposed to the party ideologically or otherwise are worried if the big decisions will adversely impact the Constitution or democracy. People in the middle are also genuinely concerned, he said.

Kishor has worked for many major parties, including the BJP, Congress and regional satraps, of different ideological moorings since 2014 but has dedicated himself to his Jan Suraj Yatra in his home state Bihar since October 2022 with a stated goal to usher in a new politics in the state.

(With PTI inputs)