Political strategist Prashant Kishore arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday to attend a Trinamool Congress-led Martyrs’ Day rally to commemorate the 13 people killed in the 1993 Youth Congress rally. Mamata Banerjee, then TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister, was the leader of the Youth Congress.
Kishor’s visit comes in the wake of a controversy over the hacking of the phone numbers of top Indian politicians, journalists and celebrities using the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
Kishore was among the potential targets for surveillance by the Pegasus. The Wire reports that between the recent West Bengal assembly elections, Kishor’s phone was hacked using Pegasus. On April 28, just days before the final phase of voting in West Bengal’s eight – phase assembly elections, Amnesty’s forensic research found signs of infection on Kishor’s phone.
Read more | Eye on the big picture: Prasanth Kishore meets all 3 Gandhis 2020 elections on the agenda
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, BJP ministers Aswini Vaishnav and Prahlad Singh Patel, and TMC MP Banerjee, son-in-law of Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee. The mobile numbers of Abhishek Banerjee were also a potential target for tracking by a government customer of the NSO Group, the news release said.
Last week, Kishore met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Gandhi’s siblings Rahul and Priyanka – who instigated a strategy in the BJP’s task of blocking Jharkhand in the 2024 elections.
Speculations arose that the meeting at Rahul Gandhi’s residence was related to the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh elections, and that former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is also the Congress chief for Punjab, and General Secretary (Organization) KC Venugopal were seen entering the premises.
However, since the entire Gandhi family came to the meeting, the agenda has drawn a map of national politics – especially the 2024 elections.
The referendum strategist, who shares a bonhomie with regional satraps, also met with NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar three times last month, signaling talks for a united front against the BJP. Kishore played a key role in the TMC’s stunning victory in the recent Bengal polls.
Banerjee was lauded by many opposition leaders for his achievement, which many political observers called a gentle signal of solidarity.
Although Kishore considered a “third front” to be an ineffective exercise – he did not believe that a “third or fourth front could challenge the BJP” because history shows that such nodes are incapable. The recent meeting with Gandhi points to an important plan to bring not only an opposition alliance but also a face to face with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After returning to power in West Bengal, the TMC leadership announced that the party would observe Martyrs’ Day on July 21, unlike in the past, in an attempt to expand its journey outside Bengal.
TMC Supremo’s Martyrs’ Day text will be aired on giant screens across Bengal. Besides, the party will broadcast in four BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Delhi.
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