The political strategist calls reports of his collaboration with BJP highly ‘speculative’, is likely to expand footprint, hire more people ahead of 2019.

Even as political strategist Prashant Kishor’s team rejected reports of a possible collaboration with the BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as ‘pure speculation’, a buzz is building around whether the ‘PK’ factor could turn out to be as significant in 2019 as it was in 2014.

While Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) is officially maintaining that it is only engaged currently with the campaign plans for YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and any news of any collaboration with the BJP is highly “imaginative” and “speculative”, it is learnt that I-PAC is looking to expand its footprint.

I-PAC is learnt to be working on new hires in the run-up to the 2019 polls to bring in more researchers and data analysts in preparation for the Lok Sabha elections.

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The only question up in the air is — which political party will go with PK (as Kishor is commonly known) and who will PK go with, given the history? The BJP or the Congress?

There is speculation that Kishor is attempting both but there are no clear signs yet of anything getting sealed.

At such a time, news of his meetings with PM Modi is bound to generate interest even if I-PAC terms it speculation.

Sources close to Kishor maintained that he has been in touch with the Prime Minister as well as Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra within the same time frame but it does not imply there is any collaboration being considered for 2019. These sources also said that clarity on the 2019 polls would only emerge after the Karnataka elections.

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The BJP has also privately denied talk of any such tie-up and some pointed out that given the history there is much that will need to be addressed before a new understanding can be forged.

Kishor was considered key to the powerful campaign mounted by the BJP in 2014 that helped the party storm to power even as the Congress tally dropped to under 50 in the Lok Sabha. The disaffection with the BJP that followed soon after and PK’s role in forging a successful ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar that brought Nitish Kumar to power, could hardly have earned him goodwill in the BJP.

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The distance with the BJP could only have grown with him formally teaming up with the Congress ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections. While original plans were to have Team PK steer the Congress right to 2019 and Rahul Gandhi is said to have been quite receptive to the idea, the arrangement fell apart quickly with the BJP sweeping UP. With that, signs of a possible collaboration with the Congress dimmed.

At the same time, the PK camp is keeping it open-ended by maintaining that Kishor has been in meetings with both Rahul Gandhi as well as PM Modi to discuss political trends and strategies. #KhabarLive