Bits and pieces of a leaked Clubhouse conversation are going viral on social media, where political strategist Prashant Kishor can be heard acknowledging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and cult image in West Bengal. Leaked the night before the state went into its fourth phase of polling, it has led to many Bharatiya Janata Party members and supporters claim that Kishor has admitted to BJP's victory in the state.
"If we're doing a survey on leaders.. then Modi and Mamata are equally popular. Which is a very big thing," said Kishor, upon being asked why people would still vote for the BJP despite having issues with the Modi-led Central government. "It's Modi's popularity, anti-incumbency against the state government, and polarisation."
Bang in the middle of a very charged eight-phase state elections, such comments coming from Trinamool Congress' lead strategist has caused an uproar on social media, especially with the right-wing.
However, Kishor claims that only selective parts of the conversation were leaked to take his words out of context. "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," he tweeted from his official handle.
BOOM was unable to access the entire Clubhouse conversation, and is therefore unable to fact check the claims made by the posts sharing the viral recordings.
The Bright Wing Conversation
The Clubhouse session, called "Bright Wing", was set up by Rohini Singh and announced on Twitter on Friday evening.
The next morning, recordings from the conversation began to surface on social media. In one of the recordings posted by BJP Spokesperson Tajinder Bagga, Kishor can be heard speaking on the history of minority appeasement of Muslims being a consistent part of politics in Bengal.
"The entire political ecosystem, be it Congress, the Left or Didi's, they all made efforts to get the Muslim vote. For the first time Hindus feel they're being considered too. It doesn't mean society is wrong, somewhere there is an element BJP is exploiting," Kishor can be heard saying.
It another one of the recordings, The Wire's Mitali Mukherjee can be heard enquiring about the reasons behind Modi's popularity in Bengal. Adding on the question, NDTV Hindi's Ravish Kumar asks, "Despite such a massive economic crisis isn't there anti-incumbency against Modi?"
In response, Kishor says, "Firstly, Modi has a cult image across the country. There are always 10-15% people who see him as god, whether they're right or wrong is another matter. Especially the Hindi speakers here, they are his core support base. As for anti-incumbency, its against the state government. And Modi is popular, quite popular. In our surveys, Modi and Mamata (Banerjee) are equally popular. Which is a very big thing. Modi is very popular."
He also adds, "Bengal has not yet had a taste of BJP. That is a factor. In 30-35 years, what people have not seen, they think 'BJP will do something we have not gotten before' - the laddoo they have not yet tasted, they wanna taste."
After a short jump cut at 1.40 mark, he finalises his point by saying, "Anti-incumbency against Trinamool that opens the doors for BJP, their ability to polarise, and the SC vote."
Bagga shared this particular clip with the caption, "Didi's Political Campaign Head PK accepting Defeat here."
In yet another recording, Kishor was also heard saying that the Dalit community, which forms 27% of the population, was standing behind BJP.
"We do a survey on whom will you vote for, and who will form the government. In the "who will form the government" question, the response is predominantly BJP. We checked to see why this is so. And that is because those who vote for BJP, will respond BJP. The 10-15% left voters, two-third of them thing BJP will form government. From majority you will always hear BJP is forming government," he adds.
He also adds that BJP has good strength in terms of ground workers, and that there are very few areas where they are not present. At the end of the recording, Rohini Singh is heard asking who is voting for TMC - but the recording stops before Kishor's response could be heard entirely.
On April 10, #PrashantKishor, #ClubhouseConfessions and #BrightWing trended on Twitter throughout the day, with the right-wing using the recordings to repeatedly claim that TMC's lead strategist has conceded defeat.
Journalists present in the conversation, however, claimed that despite everything that was leaked, Kishor stuck by his earlier prediction about BJP not crossing 100 seats in the 294-seat assembly.