Mumbai Congress leaders want Varsha Gaikwad out as city chief | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Mumbai Congress leaders want Varsha Gaikwad out as city chief

Jun 25, 2024 08:46 AM IST

16 senior leaders have written to Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge to request a meeting to discuss strengthening the organisational framework

Mumbai: Weeks after the Congress emerged as the single-largest party in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha elections, a few senior party leaders are looking to oust Varsha Gaikwad as Mumbai Congress president as they are unhappy with her style of functioning.

Gaikwad, who recently completed a year as the Mumbai Congress president, got a target on her back after being picked as the candidate for Mumbai North Central, which several leaders were eyeing. (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
Gaikwad, who recently completed a year as the Mumbai Congress president, got a target on her back after being picked as the candidate for Mumbai North Central, which several leaders were eyeing. (Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)

Also Read | Mumbai North Central: Varsha Gaikwad romps home with popular support

Sixteen senior Mumbai leaders have written to Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge to request a meeting to discuss strengthening the organisational framework, improving coordination among workers and revitalising local committees of the city unit ahead of the assembly polls later this year.

The letter, written on June 16, stated that senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra had created a conducive environment for the party to regain its foothold in this crucial metropolis. “However, to capitalize this momentum it is imperative to focus on fortifying our organizational framework in Mumbai,” the letter stated. “This includes revitalizing local committees, enhancing coordination among party workers, and effectively communicating our vision and policies to the electorate. Strengthening our organizational capabilities will not only boost our election prospects but also help in building a sustained and impactful presence in Mumbai.”

Also Read | Varsha Gaikwad chosen to preempt BJP’s Hindutva card in Mumbai

The 16 leaders who wrote the letter are Rajya Sabha MP and Congress Working Committee member Chandrakant Handore, former minister and working Maharashtra president Arif Naseem Khan, former Congress chief Bhai Jagtap, former Mumbai chief Janardan Chandurkar, former minister Suresh Shetty, state Congress treasurer Amarjeet Singh Manhas, former MLA Baldev Khosa, working Mumbai president Charan Singh Sapra, senior vice president and former MLA Madhu Chavan, former leader of opposition in BMC Ravi Raja, Mumbai North candidate Bhushan Patil, Mumbai Congress vice-presidents Shivji Singh and Sandesh Kondvilkar, Maharashtra Congress general secretary Zakir Ahmed, Mumbai unit secretary Shashikant Bansode, and former MLA Yusuf Abrahani. Most of them have reached Delhi and are meeting top leaders of the party independently, the insiders said.

However, party insiders said the senior Mumbai leaders are also pushing for the removal of Gaikwad from her position. The fact that most of the senior leaders from the Mumbai unit had written to Kharge shows that no one wants Gaikwad to continue as chief.

Also Read | MVA will sweep Mumbai, people want to save democracy: Congress nominee Varsha Gaikwad

Gaikwad, who recently completed a year as the Mumbai Congress president, got a target on her back after being picked as the candidate for Mumbai North Central, which several leaders were eyeing. To be sure, Mumbai North Central wasn’t even Gaikwad’s first choice. The MLA from Dharavi wanted to contest Mumbai South Central, but was forced to settle for North Central as part of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’s seat-sharing pact.

Gaikwad’s aides had pointed out that senior leaders from the Mumbai Congress had remained inactive during her election campaign. When contacted, Gaikwad said she was not aware of any such letter. “I have not seen any such letter, so I won’t be able to comment on it.”

This has again brought to the fore the eternal problem of factionalism in the Mumbai Congress unit at a time when the party is looking to improve its position in the state, which is at its weakest since it was formed in 1885. Ironically, the Congress won a Lok Sabha seat in Mumbai after a decade when Gaikwad bagged the Mumbai North Central constituency. The 49-year-old is also one of only four MLAs the party has in Mumbai out of its 36 in the state.

Meanwhile, the Congress leadership has called a party meeting to discuss preparations for the Maharashtra assembly elections. The meeting is set to be attended by Kharge, senior leader Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary KC Venugopal, state in-charge Ramesh Chennithala and all the top leaders from the state.

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