Differences among Congress workers and leaders came to the fore again on Thursday, during a meeting with Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the former Haryana chief minister appointed by the All India Congress Committee as an observer to help stop the infighting.
A clash broke out between workers outside a club in Juhu, where Hooda was meeting with senior party leaders. The workers flocked to the venue of the meetings on Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon. During the clashes, Arif Sayyad, a minority cell leader was beaten up when he said he would support Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
Hooda was appointed last month as observer to end factionalism in the party ahead of the polls. He had to convene series of meetings to work out a consensus.
“During one of these meetings, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi decided the names of candidates finalised at the district level will be approved by city unit chief Nirupam. In spite of this agreement, people objected to the names,” said a former MLA from the western suburbs, blaming the party leadership for undue interference.
Sources close to Nirupam, however, claimed former MPs and MLAs had listed “undeserving” supporters in the list of candidates. “Party workers and loyalists were sidelined, compromising the winning prospect, when the names were finalised . Nirupam objected to such names,” one leader said.
Late on Thursday, after a series of meetings with top leaders Narayan Rane, Gurudas Kamat, Priya Dutt, Arif Naseem Khan and Ashok Jadhav, Hooda finalised a candidate list. The party released its first list of 115 candidates on Tuesday evening.
“There was a tussle among workers, as the number of aspirants was too large. But we have settled the issues amicably. The list will be released on Friday,” said Nirupam.
Meanwhile, upset over not getting candidature for the BMC polls, two Congress corporators, Vakil Ahmed Shaikh (ward 178) and Neha Vinayak Patil (ward19) joined the NCP on Thursday.
Neha had sought ticket for herself while Vakil wanted to field his wife after his ward got reserved. NCP city chief Sachin Ahir has assured them the tickets.