Senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat died at a hospital in New Delhi on August 22.(PTI File Photo)
Senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat died at a hospital in New Delhi on August 22.(PTI File Photo)

Gurudas Kamat, a combative leader, an electoral strategist and a foodie

Senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat died of cardiac arrest in New Delhi on Wednesday. He was 63.
By Milind Deora
UPDATED ON AUG 22, 2018 11:46 PM IST

When I fought my first election in 2004, Gurudas Kamat was the Mumbai Congress chief. There was a certain baggage to our relationship in the beginning, as my father and he had political differences. Even during my first polls, there was an apprehension in political circles – whether he would hurt my prospects. But, he didn’t and was instead quite helpful and co-operative.

Over the years, as fellow MPs, who worked for 10 years together, we shared a good rapport. He was a firebrand leader, combative and even mercurial, someone who wore his likes and dislikes on his sleeve, but this went with his overall personality.

I would give him high marks for having a sound political mind. He was someone who knew how to strategise for elections and run a campaign. He had a lot of ideas on how to reach out to Mumbaiites and knew what would click with the people. He was a good organiser.

Despite their differences, my father (former Union minister and former Mumbai Congress chief the late Murli Deora) and Gurudas Kamat knew how to co-exist and resolve their issues without putting them on public display. He (Kamat) used to tell me that my father knows exactly when and how to patch up and resolve issues without taking them to a boil.

As a child, I have seen Gurudas Kamat come home for a meal or a cup of chai to discuss issues with my father.

As Members of Parliament (MPs) later, both of us would meet in Delhi, Mumbai and even on flights. Despite our minor political differences, we got along well.

Beyond politics, a lot of our conversations would be about food. He was a foodie and very proud of his Karwari antecedents. He was quite excited when he heard I was marrying a Shetty, as my wife’s family comes from Mangalore and his family was from north Karwar. He also knew my father-in-law.

His untimely demise comes as a shock and is a loss to the Congress party.

(Milind Deora is a former Union minister, a former MP from south Mumbai, and a Congress leader)

As told to Ketaki Ghoge

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