Rise of one more strategists


The buzz in Bangaluru is as much around the election strategist Sunil Kanogolu as around the contenders for the CM’s post. As media reports talk about his background and work, it emerges that he has joined the Congress, unlike the other well-known strategist, Prashant Kishore, who for years continued to give his services to different parties before joining Janata Dal (United) in Bihar. This move led to his decision to split and form his own political outfit. Sunil Kanogolu has remained elusive so far, but now that he is slated to prepare the Congress strategy for 2024, many Congress leaders are hoping he will be more accessible.

Celebration of its victory in Karnataka helped the Congress overshadow its extremely poor show in the urban local bodies’ election in Uttar Pradesh where it posted poor results in strongholds on Jhansi, Rae Bareli and Amethi. Multi-cornered contests with Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, Aam Aadmi Party and AIMIM in the fray in many places not only led to narrow victory margins, but sealed the fate of SP and Congress candidates in many places who came a close second. Leaders of SP and BSP are now waiting for the next move in Nitish Kumar’s initiative towards a joint front for 2024, even as Congress is upbeat about its prospects.

The first state to feel the impact of the Karnataka verdict is likely to be Madhya Pradesh, where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is facing strong anti-incumbency. Recently, Kamal Nath pointed out that the BJP lost six out of eight seats where Chouhan had gone to campaign in Karnataka. In the last election in 2018, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party, and Kamal Nath had become the CM, losing his position two years later to a string of developments. A change of leadership in MP could be unlikely at this juncture, but a meeting of the MP BJP working committee later this week is likely to take some big decisions.