TMC strategist Prashant Kishor’s leaked audio claims ‘equal popularity’ of PM Modi and CM Mamata in Bengal

Prashant Kishor, on Saturday, reacted strongly to the clubhouse chat released by BJP leader Amit Malviya and asserted that it was part of “the mind game” to create a wave in its favour in the assembly polls.

A leaked clubhouse chat of the journalists and Trinamool Congress strategist Prashant Kishor has stirred a storm of political furore as West Bengal went into the fourth phase of assembly polls on Saturday.

The leaked audio chat featured Kishor stating that the Trinamool Congress was facing “anti-incumbency” and “anger” and pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party has a good presence of workers in almost the entire state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “equally popular”.

The TMC poll strategist on Saturday reacted strongly to the clubhouse chat released by BJP leader Amit Malviya. He asserted that it was part of “the mind game” to create a wave in its favour in the assembly polls, reported the news agency ANI.

Addressing a press conference, TMC MP Dola Sen reportedly targeted the BJP and alleged that they have been circulating the partial audiotape since Saturday morning. She added, “The complete audiotape including all questions and answers should be released not the edited and partial version.”

Mr Malviya’s tweet comprised of four separate audio clips, claiming that Kishor had conceded Trinamool Congress’ defeat in the Assembly polls.

The first audio clip contained parts of conversations on how people in West Bengal were voting.

“There are votes for Narendra Modi…polarisation…Hindi speakers…SC [Scheduled Caste]…these are the factors,” Kishor said in the clip. “It does not matter if Suvendu [Adhikari] left…or Prashant Kishor arrived. Modi is popular here. [The population of] Dalits here is 27% and they are entirely on the BJP’s side…plus polarisation definitely exists.”

Someone asked, “Which way is the Matua community going, Prashant?” In response, the political strategist said the community will be “predominantly voting for BJP, not as unitedly as they did in Lok Sabha [polls]…But I think it will be 75% [in favour of] BJP and 25% for TMC”.

The Matua community comprises of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. There are nearly 1.5 crore voters of the Matua community in West Bengal, who wield impact in at least 30 Assembly seats.

“We carried out a survey on who people are voting for and which government is going to come to power,” Kishor continued. “When it comes to the party that will rise to power, even our survey shows that it is the BJP. Then we analysed this and found that…even among those voting for the Left parties about two-thirds think that the BJP will form the government.”

Kishor said that “the Left parties think that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee should at least lose”. “It is not that the BJP does not have workers on the ground [in West Bengal]…they have lots of people on the ground…all of them may be imported from the Left but they are dedicatedly working for the BJP,” he added. “There are no areas in the state where the BJP cadre is not strong.”

In the second audio clip, Kishor is heard saying: “The major problem that we have to accept is that for 20 years there’s been a blatant effort to appease the minorities…. Look at Bengal…there is just a simple philosophy here…the party that Muslims vote for is going to come to power. The entire political ecosystem…be it of the Congress…the Left…Didi [Mamata Banerjee]…they have tried to tap into the Muslim vote bank. This is the first time that Hindus are feeling included.”

“There is some element which the BJP is exploiting and that element is coming from the blatant misuse of minority politics by some of these parties,” Kishor told the journalists.

In the third clip, Kishor answered a question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in West Bengal. “Modi has a cult [following] in the entire country,” the election strategist said. “Plus the anti-incumbency sentiment is against the state government and not the Centre. Modi is quite popular here. If we were to do a survey on political leaders, Modi and Mamata are equally popular….which is a very big thing. [People in] Bengal have not seen the effect of the BJP government yet…therefore some think it is a kind of party that will do something different.”

In the fourth audio clip, an unidentified person in the chatroom said: “By the way, people are tweeting about this clubhouse thing and they are saying that Prashant Kishor along with other journalists…we have declared victory of Narendra Modi in West Bengal.”

Kishor then wondered if the Clubhouse chatroom is open for others. A person said, “I don’t know…someone has just posted a screenshot on Twitter tagging me and other people and saying that we all have declared Narendra Modi’s victory in West Bengal.”

Another unidentified man’s said: “If you keep an open room for everybody to join in and listen you cannot prevent people from tweeting.” To this, a woman added, “these things don’t matter…anyone can say anything…does not make a difference.” A man is then heard saying: “I know but this is often seen as evidence. One more thing I just need people to remember is that whatever you say on the clubhouse is recorded.”

Issuing clarification for the same, the TMC strategist maintained that he is glad that BJP is taking his chats more seriously compared to their own leaders. In his tweet, Prashant Kishor also pointed out, “They should show courage & share the full chat instead of getting excited with selective use of parts of it. I have said this before & repeating again – BJP will not to CROSS 100 in WB. Period.”

A recent ANI report suggested that BJP MP from Cooch Behar, Nisith Pramanik said, Kishor has put “the nail in the coffin after finishing TMC.

Meanwhile, several BJP leaders have reacted to the clubhouse audio and contended that “Modiji is the best and the party will win”, reported the news agency ANI.

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