Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Ministerial plans, years of planning, and the entire politics of West Bengal might’ve just been upended by an open ClubHouse room.
India’s far left journalists including NDTV’s Ravish Kumar and Arvind Gunasekaran, The Wire’s Arfa Khanum Sherwani and Rohini Singh, Swati Chaturvedi and others last night took to Clubhouse to discuss the upcoming West Bengal elections. In the room was also present TMC’s Chief Election Strategist Prashant Kishore, whose organization IPAC has been leading Mamata Banerjee’s election campaign. The participants in the chat thought that the conversation was private, but unbeknownst to all of them, the room was open, allowing anyone to drop in and listen to the speakers. And this led to some admissions from the members that they wouldn’t have otherwise made in public.
In a sensational revelation, TMC Strategist Prashant Kishore admitted in the room that even in their surveys, the people of West Bengal think that BJP will form the government. “We conduct a survey in which we ask people who they will vote for, and who they think is forming the government,” Kishore says in the leaked chat. “In the question around who is forming the government, people are predominantly saying it’s BJP, even in our surveys. We tried to drill down into the results, and found out that those who are voting for the BJP say that the BJP will form the government. Among the 10-15% of people who’re voting for the left, two-thirds say that the BJP will form the government,” he said.
These revelations fly in the face of Kishore’s bravado before the elections, when he’d declared that the BJP will struggle to cross the double digit mark in the state. He’d even publicly said that he would quit Twitter and his job if that happened.
At some point during the conversation, one of the panelists noticed that people were live-tweeting the comments on Twitter, which seemed to surprise Kishore. “Is this open,” he asked.
The room was very much open, and videos of the chat had been recorded by several people. Kishore seemed shaken when someone revealed that the room was public. At first the participants thought of them was leaking the audio, but Kishore then says that Clubhouse records all conversations, possibly hinting to his fellow participants to be careful about what they say.
But the videos are now out, and are already viral across the country. The BJP has long maintained that it’s comfortably winning Bengal — the fact that TMC’s own surveys are saying the same thing might just be the final nail in Mamata Banerjee’s election coffin.