It will be PK Vs SK in Telangana

Sunil Kanugolu

Rama Krishna Sangem

It will be Prashant Kishor (PK) Vs Sunil Kanugolu (SK) in Telangana’s assembly elections. A picture to this extent has emerged after Congress top leader Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with state party leaders at his Delhi residence on April 4, Monday. Rahul told the Congress leaders, around 40 of them, that Sunil will  help the party in the coming elections.

Interestingly, PK and SK are friends and associates sometime ago and worked together for various parties in the last 10 years.

Already PK is in touch with CM and TRS supremo KCR and their association will continue till the 2023 assembly elections. PK has emerged as India’s top most electoral strategist and is also known for his political ideologies – though we don’t known what exactly they are.

Presently, he is working to see that PM Narendra Modi led BJP is removed from power at the Center and replace it with a government led by opposition parties. Whether Congress will be a part of that opposition camp or not still not decided.

PK has succeeded in helping CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) reelected in Bengal last year. After that, PK announced that he won’t play the role of poll strategist that he was doing since 2014 but will only work for his ideological commitments – in other words, to bring back a non-BJP government at the Center or in states.

In 2014, Sunil Kanugolu (SK), a former management consultant with McKinsey & Company, was with PK and both worked for BJP’s prime ministeral candidate Narendra Modi and succeeded in their mission. After that, they both worked together for a few political parties including Congress, with mixed performance. By and large, they succeeded in most elections.

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, both PK and SK were with DMK, but later, they parted ways. In 2021 assembly elections, PK remained with DMK while SK went to AIADMK camp. Of course, DMK won and  AIADMK lost power. Still, SK is regarded as a poll professional – who looks after conducting surveys, selecting candidates, identifying electioneering methods and campaign issues etc.

SK’s Karnataka connection

Currently, SK is working with Congress in Karnataka. Karnataka PCC president DK Shivakumar is fully confident that his party will come to power next year, based on the assessment of Sunil Kanugolu. Probably, DK must have introduced SK, who too hails from Karnataka but settled in Chennai, to Rahul Gandhi, party seniors told Excel India. Rahul is impressed with SK’s analytical and presentation skills.

Now, faction ridden Telangana Congress is going to utilize the services of SK who is known for his ground level surveys and harsh assessment of the situation. Telangana PCC president and MP Revanth Reddy will be working with SK, while some dissident leaders may not be happy with the situation. But, Rahul is hoping that 2023 is the last opportunity to Congress to come to power in Telangana.

Though PK may not be directly looking after the campaign of TRS in the coming months, he will certainly be coordinating the broader areas and guiding CM KCR. PK and SK know each other’s  political minds, strategies and working styles. Both have their own teams and experts, but never reveal their service remuneration details.

So, it will be interesting to see how these one time friends-cum-associates will lead two rival political parties vying for power in Telangana. We also need to see who will coordinate the campaign of BJP, another force in the race. BJP has an in-house poll experts teams that are already on the work.


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Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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