How Prashant Kishor’s Ex Aide Steered Tripura Ex Royal’s Party Campaign
Tipra Motha, a regional party floated by Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman, scion of the erstwhile royal family, emerged as the second-largest party after the BJP in the recent Tripura election.
While Mr Debburman led the party, both on the field and online, a 30-year-old was working behind the scenes to help the newly-formed party take on the bigger political parties. Prasun Kumar, who once managed Prasant Kishor’s office, was the brain behind the loud entry with music, big cut-outs of party chief Pradyot Manikya, movie screenings and rally stages made in the form of fashion show ramps – all of them became the talking point during the election campaigning.
A civil engineering graduate, Prasun Kumar had been working full-time with Pradyot Manikya since 2022. Unlike other political strategists in the country, he doesn’t have any agency or organization of his own. Pradyot Manikya calls him his only ‘political aide’.
Prasun Kumar started his career as a Strategy and Management Consulting Professional with a real estate firm but in 2018 he decided to pursue his passion for Politics and Public Policy and return to work in his home state of Bihar.
He joined Prashant Kishor’s political consulting firm Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) for the 2019 Andhra Pradesh assembly elections where he worked for YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Later, he was selected by Prashant Kishor to work with him in Bihar when he began his political journey as the National Vice President of Janata Dal (United). Soon, he was elevated to take up the responsibility of managing the entire office of Prashant Kishor along with taking charge of the Bihar I-PAC Unit as the state lead.
In 2020, he was given the task of designing dedicated outreach campaigns for I-PAC’s Trinamool Congress campaign in West Bengal. But, later in the same year, he decided to part ways with I-PAC and explore opportunities with young political leaders and political parties in the country.
Prasun Kumar came in touch with Pradyot Manikya during the TTAADC elections in 2021, but it was in March 2022 that he began working full-time with Mr Manikya’s party in Tripura. He then built a team of young professionals through a first-of-its-kind leadership program called the Maharaja Bir Bikram Leadership program (MBBLP) and set up a dedicated unit called the Media and Digital Communications Unit to expand its campaign activities. All the young boys and girls working in TIPRA’s election war room were mostly freshers from within the state.
“I am grateful and thankful to Maharaja Pradyot Manikya for trusting me with this opportunity of leading TIPRA’s election campaign strategy and execution. There is a lot that I have learned from him in the last year. He understands his people best, and how he reciprocates all their love and emotion is truly inspirational,” Mr Kumar told NDTV.
Campaigns and slogans like ‘Bubagra For All’ and ‘TIPRA is Coming’ were his brainchild. His team was also behind the huge cut-outs of Party Chairman Pradyot Manikya, eye-catchy branding designs, and mega LED walls at election rallies, making Tipra’s campaigns the talk of the town and forcing other political parties to replicate the model too.
On the digital front also, Tipra’s election songs, videos, creatives, and reels had a very distinct presence. “Hundreds of volunteers were identified and trained to expand the digital footprint of the party,” Tipra Motha MLA from Kanchanpur Philip Reang told NDTV.
TIPRA also became the first regional party to launch its election manifesto. The manifesto was called as ‘TIPRA Vision Document’ and had many new and interesting schemes and policies.
“On one side, TIPRA was up against the mightiest election machine – BJP and on the other, it was the CPM that had ruled the state for over 25 years. We had to expand and match the decade-old ground cadre strength of the CPM and also, exponentially increase our digital footprint to counter the digitally strong BJP. I started from scratch, as the party had no formal support ecosystem. A dedicated unit called the Media and Digital Communications Unit was formed and Paul Dangshu who is a new MLA now from Karamcherra seat, was appointed as the in-charge of the unit,” Mr Kumar said explaining the challenges faced by him.
Formed to push the demand for a Greater Tipraland, Mr Debburman’s new party has won 13 seats in the assembly elections. It was the second largest score, which came at the cost of the BJP ally IPFT (Indigenous Progressive Front of Tripura) which won just one seat out of the five it contested this time. The BJP won 31.