Telangana’s KCR sign Prashant Kishor ahead of state polls: sources

Sources said that Prashant Kishor’s political advisory team, IPAC, works for KCR

Election strategist Prashant Kishor reportedly met K Chandrasekhar Rao at his farm outside Hyderabad over the weekend, sparking speculation amid Telangana chief minister’s efforts to cobble together a front against the BJP ahead of the elections General of 2024.

Telangana is heading for assembly elections in December next year, in which Mr Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi is hoping for a third consecutive term in office.

Sources said that Prashant Kishor’s political advisory team, IPAC, works for KCR and an official contract has also been signed, although its details are not yet known.

Mr. Kishor is credited with successfully managing the DMK campaign led by MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu and YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Karnataka.

The IPAC chief, whose ties to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress have been the subject of intense speculation, also recently met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for lunch. Although Mr Kishor dismissed it as a casual meeting, reports of his strained ties with Ms Banerjee and Mr Kumar’s past efforts to keep BJP ally in check in the state added further dimensions to the question.

IPAC – which managed Ms Banerjee’s efforts to expand and gain pan-Indian appeal – was caught in the crossfire between her and her increasingly ambitious nephew, Abhishek Banerjee. Sources close to I-PAC, however, dismissed reports of a rift with the chief minister.

Ms Banerjee is also one of the regional leaders Mr Rao has cultivated for his anti-BJP front, along with Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress leader Sharad Pawar and secular patriarch Janata Dal HD Deve Gowda.

Popular actor Prakash Raj – known for his strong anti-BJP views – was also present during Mr Kishor’s visit to the TRS government’s flagship Kaleswaram project during his stay in Telangana.

Prakash Raj’s presence came as a surprise during Mr Rao’s recent visit to Mumbai, when he met his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray and NCP leader Sharad Pawar. This sparked speculation that TRS would appoint Prakash Raj to the Rajya Sabha to effectively present its views at the national level.

Sources close to Mr Raj have confirmed that he will play a political role and an official announcement is expected soon.

Mr Raj had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha of Bengaluru as an independent.

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