Mamata Banerjee Govt to Provide 'Z' Category Security Cover to Political Strategist Prashant Kishor

Kolkata: Political strategist Prashant Kishor will be provided 'Z' category security in West Bengal after a decision to this effect was taken by Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

Sources at the state secretariat confirmed that official formalities from the West Bengal Home Department on providing Kishor enhanced security have already been completed.

Kishor, like Banerjee, has been a strong critic of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR).

A month after the Lok Sabha election results were declared last May, Banerjee had picked the political strategist to get her party back on track. After the general elections, the BJP made major gains in Bengal, winning 18 of the state's 42 Lok Sabha seats, up from just two in 2014. Afterward, the TMC lost seven municipalities to the BJP, with a majority of them switching over to the saffron outfit.

After 54 days of Kishor's appointment, an outreach programme named 'Didi Ke Bolo' (Tell Didi) was launched on July 29 last year. In a span of almost six months, the TMC has not only managed to recapture all the seven municipalities that switched over to the BJP but also the confidence of its ground-level leaders.

Hitting out at Banerjee, CPI(M) Legislative Party leader Sujan Chakraborty asked why Kishor was being provided 'Z' category security at the expense of the state government despite having no relation with public life in West Bengal.

The JD(U) last month expelled Kishor, who was its vice-president, saying his conduct in the recent past had made it clear he did not want to abide by the party's discipline.

Kishor, 42, trained in public health and worked with the United Nations for several years before entering the Indian political scene. He has been credited with orchestrating several electoral wins while working with the BJP, Congress and YSR Congress Party. In his first major campaign in 2011, he secured victory for Narendra Modi in Gujarat for a third term as chief minister.

Kishor came into the limelight when he helped Modi and the BJP win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with his innovative canvassing techniques: the 'chai pe charcha' (talks over tea) campaign, 3D rallies, conclaves and social media programmes.

Kishor has since helped elect to power JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Congress's Amarinder Singh in Punjab and the YSR Congress's YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh. His association with the Congress for the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, however, ended in a humiliating defeat for the party.