Factionalism and differences within the Congress surfaced on the first day of the vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai on Friday.
As the city unit chief Sanjay Nirupam’s detractors were gunning for his head, Gandhi did not hesitate to remind party leaders that he knows how to intervene for the sake of the discipline within the party.
Gandhi, who inaugurated a hall named after the party’s former city unit chief late Murli Deora at party office in Mumbai, termed the party complicated, but asserted that, unlike the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it believes in democracy. He said that though there was nothing wrong in having differences, the workers should come together in the larger interest of the party.
Gandhi, in his seven-minute address to the party workers at Azad Maidan, warned the party workers that he will intervene for the sake of discipline if the differences are not buried at the right time. He hailed the late Deora for his contribution to the party during his 22-year tenure.
Gandhi said, “Congress is complicated to understand and I have learnt this after working with state units since 2004. Congress believes in democracy and there is room for the anger, differences, fighting as we do not work like the RSS. But to sustain in the long term, the workers should join hands and take everybody along by keeping the differences aside,” he said.
Gandhi said, while hoping for the victory in the BMC elections, said that the Maharashtra has Congress in its DNA and the state has traditionally stood by the party for decades.
While speaking before Gandhi, party’s other state and city leaders could not stop themselves from exhibiting the brewing unrest. Former city unit chief Gurudas Kamat took a dig at the incumbent president and arch rival Sanjay Nirupam and said that a victory in the ensuing civic elections will be possible only if a favourable environment is created.
State unit chief Ashok Chavan too took a veiled dig at warring factions and said that the party should be headed the way Murli Deora did. Former city unit chief Kripashankar Singh, indirectly suggested at the need in the leadership of the party’s Mumbai unit.
The infighting within the Congress city unit has time and again come to the fore in the past few weeks, ever since Congress Darshan, the mouthpiece of the party, published articles criticising Jawaharlal Nehru and with remarks about Congress president Sonia Gandhi in its December edition.
Holding Nirupam responsible for the derogatory remarks, his detractors have been demanding his resignation. Two groups even stood against each other on Wednesday during a meeting called to finalise the itinerary of Gandhi’s Mumbai visit.
Kamathad to issue a clarification, hours before Gandhi’s arrival on Friday appealing to the party workers to maintain discipline.