Renowned election strategist and vice-president of Janata Dal (United) Prashant Kishor met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at Matoshree in Mumbai on Tuesday triggering speculations that he might be helping the estranged NDA ally in the upcoming polls.
It is not clear what Kishor discussed with Thackeray but reports quoting sources state that he will be directing the party’s campaign strategy for the Lok Sabha elections and, subsequently, the Maharashtra assembly election to be held later this year.
The meeting between Kishor and Thackeray lasted for around one-and-half hours.
India Today reports that all Shiv Sena MPs were present at Thackeray’s residence when Kishor called on the party supremo.
Quoting an unnamed Shiv Sena MP, India Today reported that Kishor will help in planning the campaign and media management for the party.
“Uddhav ji introduced us to Prashant Kishor. He said we should take up the local-level issues concerning Maharashtra and he will provide strategic help in planning the campaign and media management for Shiv Sena,” the MP was quoted as saying by India Today.
The MP also said that Kishor will not play any role in Shiv Sena’s relations with the BJP or a possible alliance with the JD(U).
Reports say that Thackeray introduced Kishor to the party MPs.
But senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that there was nothing political in Kishor’s visit.
“He (Kishor) is a leader of one of NDA’s allies and he met Uddhav-ji in that regard. See it as a courtesy visit and not a political visit,” Raut, the Shiv Sena MP in Rajya Sabha, told reporters on Tuesday.
Though allies in the NDA regime at the Centre and Maharashtra, ties between Shiv Sena and the BJP have been tenuous with the Thackeray-led party mounting attacks one after the other on the Modi government on key issues including demonetisation.
Kishor was appointed as the vice-president of JD(U) in October 2018. He shot to national attention for strategising the BJP’s poll campaign in 2014 with Modi as the PM candidate. He later parted ways with the BJP and helped JD(U) – then an opponent of the BJP – win elections as part of the Mahagathbandhan in 2015.
He then helped the Congress win elections in Punjab in 2017 but failed to bring the party in power in Uttar Pradesh the assembly elections held the same year.