Days after Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat quit the party over his differences with Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam, the two Maharashtra leaders will come face-to-face on Saturday at a meeting chaired by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
In a bid to stem rebellion in different states, Gandhi has devised a new method to bring the warring party leaders on one platform. For the past two days after his return from abroad last week, he has been holding meetings with leaders of different factions from Kerala. After Maharashtra, he is likely to meet party colleagues from Tamil Nadu.
Kamat — who took back his resignation after being persuaded by the Congress leadership — and Nirupam were often at loggerheads over issues related to the functioning of the Mumbai unit. Kamat supporters had alleged that it had become impossible for him to stay put in the party where “outsiders” were given precedence over “loyalists”. Nirupam is originally from Bihar and had left the Shiv Sena to join the Congress.
Congress general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash, whom Kamat’s supporters had blamed for the growing factionalism in the state, will also be present at Saturday’s meeting.
Congress sources said Gandhi has been forced to step in and play the role of a peacemaker. He has been making attempts to iron out differences between leaders of different camps in the party, a party functionary said.
But Gandhi faces a tough challenge in uniting different factions in Kerala, a problem that has dogged the Congress in the state for nearly three decades. The party is broadly divided into three groups of former chief minister Oommen Chandy, ex-home minister Ramesh Chennithala and present state unit head VM Sudheeran. The intense factional feud cost the Congress dearly in this year’s assembly elections.
Similarly, Tamil Nadu is another problem area for the Congress. State chief EVKS Elangovan had on June 15 submitted his resignation after the party’s drubbing in assembly elections.
However in Tamil Nadu, a large number of leaders are not attached to any faction and the central leadership is trying to tap that area. “These leaders are scattered but strong and have the capability to revive the party,” a functionary said.