Trinamool draws a line at Prashant Kishor-led I-PAC

“We are a political party, and I-PAC is our political collaborator,” says Derek O’Brien.

In an apparent distancing between the Trinamool Congress and Prashant Kishor, founder of the political consultancy group I-PAC, senior party leader Derek O’Brien said I-PAC was a political collaborator distinct from the political party.

Mr. Kishor has been campaigning for an anti-BJP front not necessarily led by the Congress. Mr. O’ Brien said I-PAC had certain “deliverables” and had been given mandate by the Trinamool Congress to do certain specific things, which they had been doing very well.

“We are a political party and they [I-PAC] are our political collaborators,” Mr. O’ Brien told reporters in Delhi, drawing a clear binary between the two. Mr. Kishore founded the I-PAC but since the May 2021 victory of the Trinamool in West Bengal, he claims to have resigned from the organisation.

Mr. O’ Brien said the Trinamool was the only party to have signed a long-term agreement with I-PAC. Ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Trinamool had signed a five-year agreement with I-PAC.

“I-PAC has a role in reaching out at the ground level, communicating, strategising and so on. But one must remember the Trinamool working committee of 21 members takes the final call,” Mr. O’Brien added.

The Trinamool is in the process of changing the party constitution to give veto powers to chairperson Mamata Banerjee to overrule any decision taken by the working committee.

The party is irked by comments of many of the new entrants such as former Congress leader from Meghalaya Mukul Sangma and Goa leader Luizinho Falerio who credited Mr. Kishore for switching to the Trinamool. The party was comfortable as long as he was the back-room boy, but was not ready to accept him as the face of the party.

According to informed sources, Mr. Kishor’s inputs for the party’s strategy ahead of the Kolkata municipal polls were all ignored. Mr. Kishor’s comments against the Congress also made the Trinamool uneasy.

Mr. O’ Brien said the Trinamool’s expansion plans were only for the States where the opposition to the ruling BJP was weak. “The Trinamool therefore will not go to Tamil Nadu where the DMK is a pre-eminent force or Maharashtra where the Shiv Sena and NCP are there,” he added.

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